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Dhaka commuters suffer as transport strike underway

  • Published at 10:55 am October 28th, 2018
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Commuters waiting for their rides at Farmgate area of the capital on October 28, 2018 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Other than some private cars, CNG-run auto-rickshaws, and rickshaws, no public transport was operating on the city’s roads

Ashfikur Rahman, a private sector employee, waited for a bus in the Badda area around 8am on Sunday to go to work in Motijheel. But no vehicles were available. Later, he went to work in Motijheel on a rickshaw paying a lot more than usual.

Not only Ashfikur, but Dhaka commuters on the whole have been suffering due to the countrywide 48-hour transport strike that began on Sunday.   

No buses were available other than the state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Commission (BRTC) bus service. Other than that, personal cars, CNG auto-rickshaws, app-based rides and rickshaws were the road traffic.  

However, all public transport other than BRTC charged higher fares than usual.

On Saturday, transport workers declared they would halt services from 6am on Sunday to 6am on Tuesday to press home their eight-point demand.

In Dhaka, no interdistrict buses left the Gabtoli, Mohakhali, or Sayedabad bus terminals since morning.

Protesters stopped vehicles and dragged passengers onto the road in Jatrabari’s Kajla and other areas in Dhaka.

The protesters also slapped drivers for defying the strike and covered their faces with engine oil.

Even ambulances were not spared.  

People hoping to find buses leaving Dhaka at the Gabtoli bus terminal were in distress after failing to find any transportation. However, some people managed to find other forms of transport but had to pay much more than usual. 

On a regular day, bus fares for the Gabtoli-Aricha Ghat route are Tk60-100. Private cars and microbuses are being rented at Tk500-600 owing to the strike. 

In Dhaka, many people were seen walking or using rickshaws to reach their destinations, sometimes paying double or triple the usual fare. There are also complaints that ridesharing apps also hiked their fares significantly.

Bank employee Taher, government employee Hamid, and some other passengers said cars and motorbikes of app-based ridesharing services have been taking advantage of the blockade by hiking fares significantly. 

What on a regular day would be Tk100-150, was Tk250-300 today, they added.

The state run Bangladesh Road Transport Commission (BRTC) bus service was the only public transportation option available throughout the city. But it was not sufficient for city dwellers.

Wishing anonymity, a traffic official said there was no public transport on the roads since morning. The number of private vehicles was also limited. People were seen using rickshaws to reach their destinations.

We are unable to do anything in this regard. However, high government officials will be able to comment better on the matter, they added. 

The transport workers’ demands include making all   road accident offences “bailable,” cancelling the provision of a Tk5 lakh fine for involvement in a road accident, keeping a representative of their federation in any probe body formed regarding a road accident,  setting a minimum educational qualification of class five to obtain a driver’s licence, and stopping police harassment on the roads.

Previously, on October 12, the workers' association decided to launch a demonstration by halting work for two days starting October 28, to press home their eight-point demand – including amendments to the Road Transport Act – if their demands were not met by October 27.