POST TIME: 22 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Strike continues despite govt pledges to meet demands

Strike continues despite govt pledges to meet demands

The transport strike continued for the fourth day in a number of districts despite the government’s assurance to meet transport workers’ demands to amend the road transport law. Cargo transport leaders and workers called off their nationwide strike after a meeting with home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday. The minister, after meeting the representatives of the Bangladesh Truck Covered-van Goods Transport Owner-Worker Unity Council, Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association and Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners’ Association, said their demands had been met.

“We’ve considered their demands. Responding to their first demand, we decided that drivers will be allowed to use their current driving licences until 30 June next year,” said the minister. The authorities will also consider other demands, he added. The commuters’ ordeal, however, continued due to the strike by a section of transport owners and workers demanding amendments to the new Road Transport Act, 2018. Besides districts, inter-district bus services in the capital also came to a halt as no buses left Dhaka’s Mohakhali bus terminal fearing harassment by those who have been observing transport strike.

However, the scenario at the Gabtali bus terminal remained quite similar: only a few buses left the station yesterday. During a visit to bus terminals, this correspondent found that a large number of passengers were waiting at the terminals. Owing to the transport crisis, some buses, which left the capital yesterday, sold tickets at much higher prices, alleged passengers.

In Khulna, no buses, particularly those travelling on long routes, left or entered the district due to the strike. At least 16 to 18 routes from Khulna to other districts remained suspended. In Kishoreganj, bus services from the district to Dhaka and Mymensingh was suspended due to the strike. Commuters alleged that no buses left the station and CNG-run auto-rickshaw cashed in on the situation, charging extra money.

In Dinajpur, vehicular movement became normal after the transport workers called off the strike on Wednesday night. However, they stayed away from work from 11am yesterday, halting bus movement to five other districts. In Tangail, no bus or truck left or entered the district yesterday. The passengers had to take auto-rickshaws, trains or other modes of transport to travel to their destinations. In Kushtia,

Meherpur, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kushtia and Chuadanga districts, a bus strike was also observed. In some districts, however, public bus services were almost normal. Meanwhile, Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader has said the Road Transport Act, 2018, will be examined for amendment. He made the statement at a meeting arranged by the cultural sub-committee of the Awami League National Council preparation committee, at the party president’s political office at Dhanmondi yesterday. He said: “The Road Transport Act 2018 will be examined for amendment to look for any kind of inconsistency in the law.”

However, truckers and covered-van drivers called off their strike last night after halting transport of goods across the country for about 18 hours, which hit businesses hard. Earlier on Tuesday, Bangladesh Truck Covered-van Goods Transport Owner-Worker Unity Council started a nationwide transport strike following the implementation of the Road Transport Act, 2018. The new law, with increased fines for traffic offences, was supposed to have come into effect from November 1. But it was delayed as transport associations had allegedly been lobbying against it.