POST TIME: 20 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Truckers now join transport strike
Commodity transportation set to be hampered as truck, covered van owners and workers go for indefinite strike from today

Truckers now join transport strike

Hundreds of covered vans keep off the road and lie parked at Tejgaon truck stand in the capital yesterday denouncing the newly-enforced Road Transport Act-2018. independent Photo

The drivers of trucks and covered vans yesterday placed a nine-point demand, including an amendment to the new Road Transport Act 2018 (RTA), and announced a halt in the transportation of all commodities across the country indefinitely from 6am today. The announcement came at a press conference, organised by Bangladesh Truck, Covered Van Owners-Workers Oikya Parishad, in the capital's Tejgaon area.

Earlier in the day, police dispersed protesting truck drivers after they blocked the Dhaka–Mymensingh highway for two-and-a-half hours at Mawna point in Sreepur upazila.

Hazi Mohammad Tofazzal Hossain Majumder, president of the Parishad, told The Independent that the government did not hold any discussion with truck owners' associations before drafting the new law.

"They only held talks with bus owners and workers’ associations," he also said, adding that the strike would continue until the government amends the new law.

"We'll enforce the strike to press home our nine-point charter of demands, including amendments to the new transport law," he said.

The association expressed concern over the newly enforced RTA, terming it a blueprint for destruction of the industry.

They said levying a Tk. 25,000 fine for driving without a license is irrational. “Many truck drivers will not be able to pay the sum even with two months of salary,” Majumder said.

He also said that getting the fitness clearance for vehicles is a complicated and time-consuming process. Hence, he explained that the fine of Tk. 25,000 imposed on unfit vehicles would put pressure on the truck drivers.

In the nine-point demand, the association said that the authorities should refrain from filing cases against unfit vehicles for the first 15 days after the expiry of the fitness document.  “The fine on unfit vehicles should now be Tk. 4,000. Under the previous law it was Tk. 2,000,” said Majumder.

The association also urged the government to amend the law and lower the fines imposed on route permits and tax tokens.

At the Chattogram port, truck owners have called an indefinite strike from today morning as a part of the protest against the new RTA. Abdul Mannan, general secretary of Chattogram Port Truck-Covered Van Owners’ Association confirmed this to The Independent.

 Countrywide protests by bus and truck operators  Bus and truck drivers in Khulna, Narail, Jhenaidah, Meherpur, Kushtia, Chuadanga, Satkhira, Pabna, Jessore, Chapainawabganj, Kushtia, Tangail, Mymensingh, Jhenaidah, and Magura are continuing their strike for the second day.

No bus has left the eight districts since yesterday morning

On Monday, bus and truck drivers in 10 districts went on strike, protesting against the new RTA which came into effect across the country after the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) enforced the Act on Monday, 10 months after it was enacted. This put thousands of passengers in distress as bus services were suddenly suspended in the districts. Those affected by the strike have been trying to reach their destinations on three-wheelers by paying higher fares.

Transport workers, including bus drivers, said that the new law imposes the death penalty on drivers if anyone dies in a road accident and a fine of Tk. 5 lakh if anyone is injured.

They also said that a driver cannot afford to pay such a large sum as their maximum salary is around Tk. 15,000–20,000.

As such, the transport workers refused to resume services until the law is amended.

On the first day of the RTA enforcement, 10 mobile courts in Dhaka filed 88 cases, levying fines to the tune of Tk. 121,900 for traffic violations.