Road transport leaders urge govt to resume bus services

The road transport owners and workers on Thursday urged the government to resume the public transport services amid the ongoing restrictions on public movement and overall activities. Both the transport owners and workers’ organisations demanded resumption of the public transport services including buses and human haulers while the owners additionally demanded financial supports and relief supplies for workers.

The workers also blocked the road in front of Gabtoli inter-district bus terminal in the capital on Thursday demanding resumption of bus services.  Widespread violation of the health guidelines continued across the country on the 16 consecutive days of the restrictions.

Huge traffic congestion was seen on the capital roads on the day with many cars, microbuses, CNG-run auto-rickshaws, rickshaws, motorcycles and service vehicles like covered vans under different offices on roads.  People’s regular rush to the banks, malls and markets continued while the government and non-government offices remained closed and public transports, including buses, trains and launches, were not allowed to run. Earlier the government imposed an 11-point restriction on public movement, public transports and businesses for one month which came into effect on April 5 but remained almost on paper.

The government on April 7 allowed buses in all city corporation areas including Dhaka and Chattogram metropolitan cities for a limited period at half capacity while fares increased by 60 per cent. However, the government again imposed restrictions on public movement and overall activities from April 14 and again extended it from April 22 to April 28. The Cabinet Division on Wednesday issued a circular extending the date till May 5 midnight.

Since April 14, a ban was again imposed on the movement of public transports including buses, trains and launches but excluding goods-laden transports.   On Thursday, Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners’ Association held a press conference at the Gabtoli inter-district bus terminal in the morning demanding the resumption of the public transport services at half capacity, Tk 5,000 crore loans from the special incentive fund of the government under easy terms with low interest, waiving interests against loans taken by transport owners for business purposes and the continuation of updating of all classified loans for the transport owners by giving 1 per cent down payment, said a press release. The association leaders said that daily around two crore passengers use roads while there were around three lakh buses and minibuses on which income of around 30 lakh workers and three lakh owners rests.

Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association secretary general Khandakar Enayet Ullah told New Age that they had also urged the authorities concerned to waive the interests for bank loans and resume bus services. Meanwhile, on Thursday, a few hundred transport workers blocked the road in front of the Gabtoli terminal for around an hour demanding relief and the resumption of bus services.  Later, police dispersed them and opened the road for traffic movement.

Dhaka Zila Janbahan Sramik Union president Md Abbas Uddin told New Age said that currently only buses were not running on roads and only the bus workers were living in an inhuman condition without any earning ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr. Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation general secretary Osman Ali said that they would organise a press conference in the capital today to press home the demand of resumption of the public transport services. Covid-19 killed 88 more people and infected 2,341 in 24 hours on Thursday, raising the death toll to 11,393 and infections to 756,955 in the country, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.

The government on April 11 suspended the operation of all international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh for a week from April 14 but immediately opened flights to and from five destinations including Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE and Qatar from April 17 and resumed the Bangladesh-China flight operation and domestic flight operation on all but Cox’s Bazar routes from April 21.

The authorities on April 14 allowed all banks to continue their activities daily for a limited period of time and on April 25 allowed shops and shopping malls to resume activities.

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