Limiting bus services while lifting passenger capacity restrictions may lead to more Covid-19 transmission, they say
The Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association has urged the government to call off plans to limit the number of buses on roads upon their return to operating at full capacity on Wednesday.
Limiting the number of buses while lifting passenger capacity restrictions may lead to even more overcrowding and Covid-19 transmission, they said.
“No meeting has been held, neither physically nor online, with the authorities concerned about halving transport fleets from Wednesday,” said Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association.
“However, we are requesting that the government scrap the plan and allow all buses to ply as in regular circumstances,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
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“Cutting down on the number of buses will also increase the risk of virus transmission," the BRTOA secretary general added.
A senior official of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police told Dhaka Tribune the police had verbally requested that local transport operators run half of their fleet, but no official meetings were held.
According to a government circular issued on Sunday, public transports will return to operating at full passenger capacity from Wednesday. The circular also said local administrations and law enforcement agencies would decide on limiting the number public transports after discussions with transport owners and workers.
On Monday, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam clarified that the government was considering limiting the number of buses to half in order to reduce the pressure of traffic on the roads.
The same day, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the plan was unlikely to be implemented as it would be difficult to enforce.
“Who will count the number of buses plying the roads? None of the authorities discussed this decision [to limit the number of buses] with us,” he said at a public program.
Experts concerned by removal of passenger capacity restrictions
Health experts are concerned by the removal of the passenger capacity restrictions on public transports, as they are hotspots for Covid-19 transmission.
Dr Mushtaq Hussain, advisor to the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research IEDCR, told Dhaka Tribune: “The infection rate will increase as public transports and terminals are major gathering points and transport will move without passenger restrictions.
Dr Tarek Hussain, health advisor to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), also said the infection rate would increase with a lack of restrictions. He urged the government to revise the plan to return to full passenger capacity.