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Transport workers threaten govt with another strike in 21 days

  • Published at 10:26 am October 29th, 2018
Transport strike
Commuters waiting for their ride at Mirpur 10 on Sunday, October 28, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

A two-day-long strike by transport workers to protest the act was set to end on Tuesday at 6am

Transport workers are set to tell the government they will launch a 96-hour strike in 21 days, if their 8-point demand on the Road Transport Act 2018 is still unmet.

A two-day-long strike by transport workers to protest the act was set to end on Tuesday at 6am. During the strike, no private buses were in operation, and government-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) buses were the only mode of public transport for commuters. 

Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation (BRTWF) Secretary General Osman Ali on Monday told the Dhaka Tribune the government had not sat with them or given assurances on their 8-point demand.

“Our strike ends tomorrow [on Tuesday] at 6am. We will give the government 21 days to take initiatives on our demands. If they do not do so within this time, we will go on another work abstention program, and this time it will be for 96 hours,” he added.

The BRTWF secretary general further said that leaders of the federation would hold a meeting after the strike ends on Tuesday, after which they will make a formal announcement on the 96-hour strike.

Covered Van Drivers’ Association President Kamaruzzaman said: “If the government wants to solve the issue, it would only take an hour. Many laws have been amended or cancelled through the presidential ordinance.”

“Five out of 105 accidents are caused by driver negligence, but it is not proper justice to harshly penalize them without correcting all the things that pressurize the transport workers,” he added. 

Also Read- Transport leader refuses Quader’s call to withdraw strike

Kamaruzzaman further said: “We understand the suffering of people. But the workers are helpless in this situation. If the law does not change, the 96-hour strike will be announced. We would like to give the government some time to sit for talks with us.” 

Meanwhile, commuters in Dhaka city and elsewhere in Bangladesh continued to suffer on the second day of the 48-hour nationwide transport strike yesterday.

Dhaka city roads were full of private cars and others vehicles, however, only a few public buses plied the streets yesterday morning.

DMP Joint Commissioner (Traffic-South Division) Mofuz Uddin Ahmed told the Dhaka Tribune: “There is no specific complaint about any chaos yet. The strike is not our concern. We are busy with traffic management and law and order. Police are on the field to prevent any chaos.”

Also Read- Dhaka commuters suffer as transport strike underway

Taking advantage of the situation, all available public transport other than Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) buses charged commuters higher fares than usual on the first day of the strike.

Nasrin Akter, a primary school teacher, came to Dhaka from Manikganj for official business, and got stuck. As she had two children waiting at home, she had to rent a vehicle with other people, and pay much more than the usual fare to get back home. 

The Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation began the 48-hour strike at 6am on Sunday.

On Sunday, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader asked the workers to end their strike, but they refused to do so. 

On the first day of the strike, protesters stopped vehicles and dragged passengers onto the road in Jatrabari’s Kajla and other areas in Dhaka. They also slapped drivers for defying the strike and covered their faces with engine oil. Even ambulances were not spared this treatment.

Protesters also stopped vehicles and dragged passengers onto the road in the Postogola area on the second day of the strike. Some drivers were forced to do squats holding their ears in different parts of Dhaka.

On Saturday, transport workers declared a halt to their services to press home their eight-point demand, which include making all offences under the Road Transport Act 2018 act bailable.