Strike called off as bus fares raised

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Dhaka, Nov 07: After the government met their demand, Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association on Sunday called off the indefinite transport strike it enforced on Friday in protest against the fuel price hike and demanding increased bus fares.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has increased the fares for intra-city and inter-district buses by 26.5% and 27% respectively following the demand of the bus owners.

The decision came at a meeting between the BRTA and the bus owners today (Sunday).

Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, said the strike was called off today. “We’ve also instructed the owners to operate the bus from today.”

From now on, the fare for inter-district buses will be Tk 1.8 per km with a 27% hike which was Tk 1.42 per km. The fare for intra-city buses would be Tk 2.15 per km – an increase from Tk1.70 — with a 26.5% hike. The minimum fare would be Tk 10 for buses and Tk 8 for minibuses.

BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Majumdar said, “The notification will be issued after sending the proposal to the ministry today. These new fares will be effective from tomorrow (Monday).”

On Thursday, bus, truck and covered van owners called an indefinite nationwide strike from Friday in protest against fuel price hike.

Convenor of Bangladesh Truck-Covered Van, Tank Lorry and Prime Movers Owners and Workers Coordination Council Md Rustom Ali announced their decision on Thursday following an emergency meeting of the organization.

Leaders of the organization said the government raised the toll of Bangabandhu Bridge and Muktarpur Bridge from 257 per cent to 300 per cent “illogically” on November 2 and then it raised the prices of fuel, said a press release.

Transport movement had remained suspended for a long time due to Covid in the last two years. When the transport owners are trying to make a turnaround from their huge losses caused by Covid shutdown, the decision of raising bridge toll and fuel price was announced, they added.

On Wednesday, the government raised the prices of diesel and kerosene at the retail level.

As per the new price, the diesel and kerosene will be selling at Tk 80 per litre instead of Tk 65 with effect from zero hour on Thursday, said a press release of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.

It said the prices of other petroleum products will remain unchanged.

It clarified that the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has been incurring a loss of Tk 20 crore per day as it is selling diesel at Tk 13.01 lower per litre and furnace oil at Tk 6.21 per litre, lower than their imported prices.

It said the petroleum prices have been readjusted against the backdrop of price hike of petroleum on the international market.

Public Sufferings

The nationwide transport strike intensified the sufferings of commuters and inter-district passengers as it rolled into the 3rd day on Sunday.

The common people who depend on public transport for commuting and long-haul journeys are the worst sufferers.

People, especially the office-goers, have been suffering a lot as they have to wait for a long time on roads to catch a vehicle to reach their destinations.

Small vehicles like private vehicles, ride-sharing motorbikes and rickshaws are ruling the roads in Dhaka city, creating traffic congestions at different points.

Rickshaws and auto-rickshaws are charging extra fares taking t eh advantage of the situation.

Besides, the suspension of launch service by owners on Saturday morning added to the woes of passengers.

The launch owners suspended their services on Saturday, demanding that the fares be doubled.

On Saturday, a section of leaders of transport workers and owners met Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal but the meeting concluded inconclusively.

“We’ve decided to continue the strike until the decision of the fuel price hike is withdrawn or transport fare is readjusted,” said additional secretary general of Bangladesh Covered Van, Truck Owners Association Abdul Motaleb while talking to reporters emerging from a meeting with the home minister at the latter’s residence.