It has become an even bigger hurdle to ensure the safety of passengers
One of the most important aspects of opening up the economy and the country is having a functional public transport system. In this regard, Bangladesh has struggled enough as it is: From the system being overburdened to a complete disregard for life to the constant flouting of traffic laws, the Bangladeshi transport system, especially when it comes to buses, has been in shambles, and has required major upheaval.
But, with the coronavirus pandemic now added to the mix, it has become an even bigger hurdle to ensure the safety of the passengers who use them. One of the key tenets of controlling the pandemic, that of social distancing, needs to be maintained.
To solve this problem, the road transport authorities have imposed certain restrictions, such as filling up buses to 50% capacity and hiking up bus fares by 60%, to recoup for those costs. However, these directives, and the expectation that they will be followed, are naïve at best.
Considering how populated we are as a nation, and the number of people using the public transport system to get to work every day, is it reasonable to expect the number of buses to cater to their commuting needs, when, even before the rules, these buses were running over capacity?
In addition, can we reasonably expect an industry which has notoriously put the lives of people at risk to change their behaviour so as to ensure that social distancing is maintained in the name of safety?
While the government has promised stern actions against those who fail to comply with the health and safety guidelines, only time will tell whether this is in any way manageable with the resources we have and accounting for the number of people using our public transport system every day.
If not, the rate at which the virus spreads will increase beyond anything that we can control.