Commuters in Dhaka and adjacent districts have immensely suffered due to a surprising scarcity of public transport ahead and after a BNP rally in the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan.
While some buses were seen plying Dhaka’s street in the morning for several hours, the roads were dominated by small vehicles and rickshaws since 11am till evening on Sunday, which even had led to traffic jam at some points of the city. At noon, a gridlock had stretched from Mohakhali to Matsya Bhaban intersection.
Thousands of commuters, mostly office-goers and students, were seen stranded at the bus stands and on the side of the roads in the city.
Nearly 100 Srabon Paribahan buses run on the Rayer Bazar and Gulistan route every day, but their number was very low on Sunday. Very limited number of buses of Meghla Paribahan, Himalaya Paribahan and Manjil Paribahan were also seen.
Many bus drivers and staff claimed that owners did not let their buses on the city streets fearing untoward incidents centring the BNP rally. The owners, however, denied that claiming enough public transport was available on the streets, reports Bangla Tribune.
Meanwhile, the report said, Dhaka-bound buses from Narayanganj, Gazipur, Savar and Ashulia were halted ahead of the BNP rally in the capital. Traffic was stopped for a long time in a number of areas.
Vehicular movement in Dhaka was also less than normal comparatively on the first day of the week as the presence of public transports was very thin.
In the morning, several men who drive buses on the Mirpur-Motijheel-Jatrabari route, requesting anonymity, said a huge number of buses were also hired by BNP leaders to ferry their activists to the rally.
“A handful of us are on the streets now, but we will work until the afternoon. Because we will not be able to make enough trips in the evening amid massive gridlocks during rush hour which will take shape because of the pressure after the BNP rally,” said one of them.
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Police are checking the vehicles entering Dhaka | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune
UNB reported that commuters in Narayanganj suffered immensely as a very small number of public transport reportedly left for Dhaka since Sunday morning ahead of the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.
Hundreds of commuters, mostly students and working people, were seen waiting for public transports at several bus stoppages to go to Dhaka.
Only the Sheetal Paribahan buses were plying the roads while all the buses of other Dhaka-bound transport organisations, including Bandhan, Utsab, Ananda and Borak, stayed off the streets since the morning, alleged many commuters, reports UNB.
M Zakir Hossain Majumder, a private organisation employee, said he fortunately got into a bus of Sheetal Paribahan after competing with a good number of commuters.
Apart from Narayanganj, few public transports left Savar for Dhaka since morning amid the transport owners’ association’s allegation that they were asked to ‘keep all their transports’ off the streets.
In Gazipur, commuters got stuck at several bus stoppages due to the scarcity of public transports. Many were seen walking to their destinations.
Gazipur police traffic division’s Assistant Superintendent of Police Saleh Uddin Ahmed told the Bangla Tribune that they were not stopping any buses from going to Dhaka. “Transport owners themselves are choosing not to. But I have no idea why.”
Meanwhile, police arrested 48 leaders and activists of district and upazila units of BNP and its affiliated organisations, alleged the party leaders, reports UNB.
Nasrin Jahan of Dhaka’s Mirpur goes to her office at Motijheel every morning. She told the Bangla Tribune: “When I got on a bus today, I heard the driver’s assistant saying they will not make further trips after 11am.”
The situation throughout the day, however, was a somewhat of a blessing for the drivers of ride-sharing service Uber and CNG-run auto-rickshaws as many people had to depend on them in absence of public transport.
One Uber driver, Mostafa said he made several trips in the morning as the roads were free of traffic due to a low number of buses. “I have made more trips today than I do on other days.”
The situation in Dhaka was worse in the evening after the rally ended, coinciding with the rush hour. Homebound people were seen stranded on the side of the streets due to lack of transport along with tailbacks.
The BNP claimed Awami League activists had halted the buses in an attempt to diminish the public gathering at the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.
However, Awami League leaders said transport owners kept their buses off the roads as BNP men earlier had vandalised and torched many buses during their anti-government movement and such rallies.