• Sunday, Sep 22, 2019
  • Last Update : 06:15 pm

Transport strike piles misery on commuters

transport strike
A 48-hour transport strike inconveniences hundreds of thousands across the countryDhaka Tribune

There was also a block on the passage of freight from Bangladesh to India through Benapole port

Commuters across Bangladesh suffered a second day of misery on Monday as transport workers concluded their 48-hour countrywide strike in support of their eight-point demand.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation (BRTWF) decided on October 12 to take industrial action if its call for amendments to the Road Transport Act 2018 was not met by October 27.

The controversial legislation was passed in parliament on September 19 following nationwide protests for safer roads sparked by the death of two college students on Airport Road in Dhaka.

According to the new law, any driver killing or injuring someone due to reckless or negligent driving will face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a Tk5 lakh fine.

Following through on their threat to strike on Sunday and Monday, the disaffected transport workers created barriers on the highways to block private vehicles in many places across the country. 

In Dhaka, the only public transport seen on the roads were CNG-run autorickshaws and rickshaws. Regular commuters, however, reported being quoted double the usual fares, forcing many to walk on foot to reach their destinations. 

In Gopalganj, no buses started from Police Line area or Kuadanga bus station, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded including those needing to travel long distances.

“We came home two days ago and are now trying to return to the varsity hall as our exams will start on Tuesday,” said Parash, one of three Dhaka-bound students.

In Benapole, many of the hundreds of passengers from India who were left stranded at the land port had no option but to take shelter for the night at local hotels or in the houses of local people. 

There was also a block on the passage of freight from Bangladesh to India through Benapole port.

“We have incurred losses of Tk36 crore due to the two-day strike,” Benapole Customs Commissioner Belal Hossain Chowdhury said.

In Chapainawabganj, the movement of goods through Sonamasjid land port was unaffected by the transport strike although no trucks carrying imported goods left the area for other districts.

In Rangpur, a total of 53 bus routes that normally ply the Dhaka-Rangpur highway were suspended due to the transport strike.

In Thakurgaon, transport workers were seen forcibly obstructing the movement of public vehicles on highways and regional routes, forcing them to stop and their passengers to disembark, badly inconveniencing commuters.

In Satkhira, a large number of passengers and hundreds of trucks loaded with imported Indian items, including perishables, were left stranded at Bhomra land port due to the transport strike. 

In Barisal, no buses started from City Bus Terminal, leaving thousands of passengers, especially those requiring travel to long distances, helpless.

In Tangail, a total of 11 district routes including via the Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu Bridge highway remained closed to public transport,  except for a few CNG and battery-run auto-rickshaws.

In Comilla, thousands of passengers were seen waiting for vehicles even though no buses started from three bus terminals in the city since early in the morning.

Transport workers also staged demonstrations on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway in Alekhchar, Paduar Bazar and Biswaroad areas.