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18 April, 2020 12:49:14 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 18 April, 2020 01:44:18 PM
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COVID-19: Transport workers unable to bear shutdown impacts

They look for govt support for survival
Independent Online/ UNB
COVID-19: Transport workers unable to bear shutdown impacts
File Photo

The national shutdown, enforced as part of efforts to slow down the spread of Covid-19, has led to widespread unemployment and frustration among transport workers in Bangladesh.

If the lockdown time is extended, steps have to be taken to provide assistance to transport workers as it has become a cause of anxiety and hunger, union leaders said.

According to them, around 50-60 lakh workers like drivers of buses, trucks, covered vans, pickup vans, three-wheelers and easy-bikes, and their helpers are engaged in the transport sector of the country.

Now they are passing through a very difficult time losing their ways of earnings, they said.

Both the leaders of transport owners and workers have urged the government to provide a package fund for them like the one given for the garment industry and waiver of bank loan interest for several months.

Earlier, the government announced a stimulus package of Tk 5,000 crore for the export-oriented industry to overcome the impact of COVID-19.

Enayet Ullah, general secretary of Sarak Paribahan Malik Samity (SPMS), told UNB that both the owners and the workers of transportation sector in the country are suffering much due to suspension of mass transport.

“The country’s transport sector is losing around Tk 500 crore daily due to the halt in mass traffic movement. There are 4 lakh vehicles in the country like buses, trucks, covered vans, pickup vans, three-wheelers and easy-bikes with around 50 lakh workers involved in the sector. Both transport workers and owners are jobless now,” said Enayet Ullah.

He said the government announced a stimulus package of Tk 5,000 crore for garment industry to overcome the impact of COVID-19. “We also demand a package fund like them to overcome the crisis in our sector.”

“Many transport owners pay bank loan instalments from their everyday earnings. But now there’s no source of income right now. How’ll they survive? The government should waive bank interest, too.”

SM Shah Alam, president of Bangladesh Road-Transport Owner and Workers Okiya League, told UNB that both the bus owners and workers are now in a dire state following the closure of mass transport.

“Some 1,600 buses are listed in our association which operate across the country, including capital Dhaka. Around 7,000 people used to work here. But all are now jobless as they work like day-labourers,” he said.

Shah Alam added they used to earn around Tk 4,000 every day from a bus while a worker Tk 500-1,000. But now it’s zero.

Ismail Hossain Bachcu, General Secretary of Dhaka District Road-Transport Vehicles Workers Union (DDRTVWU), said although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the officials concerned to make a list of transport workers for distributing relief materials, no-one from the government is yet to communicate with the workers and their leaders.

Ismail Hossain said there are around 40,000 vehicles, including bus, truck and three wheelers in Dhaka only, and around 1,50,000 workers are involved in the sector.

Contacted, Shajahan Khan, acting president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation (BRTWF), said around 50 lakh workers are involved in transport sector across the country who used to receive wages daily and they are passing their days in acute financial hardship because of the shutdown.

Shajahan Khan, also a former shipping minister, said they are working to make a list of the workers in each district.  “On completion of the list, the relief items will be distributed among the workers soon under the supervision of deputy commissioners,” he added.

Also read:

32 lakh transport workers going without work

 

BK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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