Public transport shortage grips commuters across Bangladesh after fuel price hike

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Desk report, Aug 06: Most bus operators in the country, including inter-district bus services, have increased fares following the government’s move to hike fuel prices by over 50%.

To make matters worse, CNG-run auto-rickshaws, rickshaws (both paddle and battery run), and ride sharers were taking advantage of the untoward situation by overcharging passengers.

It is found that fares have jumped drastically on some routes while bus owners and workers of several destinations have partially or completely suspended operations and are making arrangements to charge travellers extra.

In Dhaka, the number of intra-city buses decreased significantly since Saturday morning.

Commuters, mainly office goers, suffered as there was barely any public transport available on the city streets.

Hundreds were seen waiting at various intersections and bus stops in the vain hope of getting a ride. Demand for auto-rickshaws and rickshaws was high, and fares went up.

Moshin Bhuiyan had to wait for a couple of hours before he could manage a bus ride to his destination.

Travelling from Shonir Akhra to his office in Moghbazar Moshin had to pay Tk10 extra today.

“Regular bus fare from my home to Moghbazar is Tk30. But the helper charged me Tk40 citing the fuel price hike.”

When contacted for comments regarding the current situation, Dhaka Sarak Paribahan Malik Samity Joint Secretary Samdani Khondaker, “Some bus owners have decided not to operate their vehicles as costs have gone up due to the fuel price hike. This is the reason why the number of buses in the city is low today.

“However, a meeting between Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) authorities and transport owners will take place today at noon. Hopefully, everything will become normal after that.”

In Munshiganj, operation of long-haul buses has almost come to a halt since today (6 August) morning adding to the woes of the passengers.

CNG-run auto-rickshaws and human haulers operating via the Muktarpur bridge were seen charging Tk10 extra at least.

Mithun Saha, a passenger from Dhaka, said, “I went to Narayanganj from the Muktarpur bridge paying Tk50 for a CNG ride on Friday.

“Today I was charged Tk60. A Tk10 increase in fare overnight.”

Amina Akhtar, who was forced to ply a human hauler to reach her desired destination, said, “I left home thinking that I will get on a bus. However, there are none available this morning.

“Thus I had to ply a human hauler which charged me Tk10 extra than regular to reach Narayanganj.”

Amjad Hossain, an employee of Dighirpar Transport Line, said, “Our counters are now closed. Services will remain suspended until we fix the new fares.”

In Khulna, intercity bus fares have been hiked by almost 40-50%.

About 18 buses ply from Sonadanga bus terminal in Khulna to other cities. Among them, fare on Khulna-Paikgacha route has been increased by Tk35 taka to Tk150.

On the other hand, on the Khulna-Bagerhat route, the fare has been increased by Tk40 to Tk120, on the Khulna-Jashore route by Tk40 taka to Tk150, on the Khulna-Kushtia route by Tk70 taka to Tk350 and on the Khulna-Gopalganj route by Tk30 to Tk150.

Khulna District Bus-Minibus Coach Owners Association Joint Convenor Md Anwar Hossain Sona said, “The government has suddenly increased the price of fuel oil but did not increase public transport fares. It is not possible to buy fuel at such a price and run a bus at the same fare.”

In Chattogram, a transport owners’ strike has inconvenienced thousands of commuters as buses remained off the roads on Saturday.

The decision to embark on the strike was taken around midnight on Friday, Belayet Hossain, president of the Chattogram Metropolitan Transport Owners Group, said.

Bus movement in Barishal is normal but transport owners would go on strike if the fares are not increased by today.

In Moulvibazar, bus fare on the Dhaka-Moulvibazar route has been hiked to Tk550 from the regular Tk430 effective from today morning (6 August).

In Pabna, tickets for Pabna-Dhaka buses are now being sold at Tk550 (non-AC) and Tk900 (AC) — a Tk100 rise in fares from yesterday.

Meanwhile, bus fares in LakshmipurRajshahi, SylhetMymensingh, and Brahmanbaria are yet to see a surge. But the number of vehicles on the road has dropped significantly.

Transport owners are expected to meet soon to decide upon the matter and prepare new, increased fares.

Whereas, bus services in Brahmanbaria have been said to be normal till the filing of this report.