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Transport strike brings sufferings

88 cases filed, Tk 1.21 lakh realised in fines on first day of mobile court drive
Staff Reporter, Dhaka
Transport strike brings sufferings
Top, transport workers stage a rally at Olongker More in Chattogram city yesterday protesting newly-enforced Road Transport Act-2018. Bottom, dozens of buses stay off the road and lie idle in the central bus terminal of Khulna. Star Mail, Focus Bangla Photos

The public transport system was thrown out of gear at many places across the country yesterday as transport workers and owners went on an indefinite strike in 10 districts in protest against the newly enforced Road Transport Act-2018. They described the act as a “tool of extortion for police”.

The police filed as many as 88 cases under the new law and realised Tk 1.21 lakh in fines from errant transport workers. People faced severe inconvenience in the districts, including Jashore, Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Magura, Narail, Jhenaidah, Meherpur, Kushtia and Chuadanga.

Confirming the strike, Mortaza Hossain, general secretary of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association, said the new law branded the drivers as killers in cases of road accidents, while in reality the transport workers never kill anyone deliberately.

Mobile courts

Earlier, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) deployed 10 mobile courts—six in Dhaka and two in Chattogram—to ensure implementation of the new transport act. The courts started working since 10am yesterday, AKM Masudur Rahman, director (enforcement) of the BRTA, told The Independent.

As many as 88 cases were filed yesterday and the BRTA mobile court fined Tk. 121,900 at different points of Dhaka city, including Uttara, Banani, Motijheel, Mirpur, Jatrabari, Manik Mia Avenue.

The Independent visited several spots and talked to the authorities of mobile courts, transport workers, and pedestrians.

At Manik Mia Avenue, Sarah Sadia Tajin, executive magistrate of BRTA court-8, said: “In most cases, we found that registration papers or other documents to be okay, but the vehicles have no fitness certificates. Even the rules of reserved seats have not been followed. In some cases, extra seats are installed outside the permitted seats. The fair chart is not placed at the proper place. Some drivers possess light vehicle licences even when they drive heavy vehicles—this is a violation of the new law.”

Masud Hassan Patwari, executive magistrate of mobile court-7, said: “Public awareness has been given importance besides implementing the new law.”  

Sumon, a commuter, said: “Most of the vehicles are in appalling conditions. Seat arrangement is also far from perfect.”

At Kakoli bus stand, a transport owner vented ire, saying that everything was just in

a mess. “Cases were filed, but there was no immediate solution,” he said.

He also claimed that the BRTA had the tradition of biding time to give licences to the drivers who applied for it. They demand at least Tk. 7,000-8,000, but poor drivers could hardly afford such hefty sums, he said.

Prabir Kumar, DC of the traffic department (north), said they were conducting awareness programmes on the roads. “Many people in Bangladesh don’t know about the law. We’re holding programmes to make them aware of the law,” he added.

Strike in districts

People suffered immensely due to the sudden strike of the transport workers. Many of them came to know about the strike after reaching the bus stands. Some hired alternative transports to reach their destinations.

In Jashore, commuters had to endure untold suffering as transport workers started the strike on 18 routes of the southwestern region of the country from yesterday morning without prior information. The strike began early in the morning. There were large gatherings at bus stoppages and terminals in Jashore and adjacent areas of the district.

Mamunur Rashid Bachchu, president of the Jashore district unit of Paribahan Sanghstha Sramik Union, claimed that transport workers willingly started work abstention against the newly-enforced transport act.

In Kushtia, transport workers declared an indefinite strike by halting bus services with the rest of the country, except Dhaka. The decision was taken at a meeting on Thursday, said Mahbubul Haq, president of the Kushtia District Motor Workers’ Union.

In Narail, bus operations on the five internal routes had been halted by transport workers for an indefinite period without any prior announcement. Narail Transport Workers’ Union joint general secretary Sadek Ahmed Khan, however, said their organisation had nothing to do with the strike.

In Satkhira, transport workers stopped services on all routes until the new road transport act was amended. “They want some provisions to be amended before the new law is implemented,” said Abu Ahmed, president of the Satkhira Transport Owners’ Association.

Bus services in Bagerhat, Magura, Jhenaidah, Meherpur, Kushtia, and Chuadanga were also badly hit.

Road communication of Khulna with the other districts remained suspended as the transport workers stayed away from plying vehicles. “Workers will continue the strike until the amendments are made,” said Md Nurul Islam Baby, president of the Khulna Motor Workers’ Union.

In Rajshahi, bus services in the district and with Naogaon district remained suspended.

Jahangir Alam, president of the Workers’ Union (Rajshahi), said some workers implemented transport strike but many others did not. “No official decision was taken on the strike till this afternoon,” he added.

Minister’s view

Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said in Parliament yesterday that the new road transport act would be implemented at any cost. “No influential persons can make the act ineffective,” he added.

Speaking at a press briefing regarding some current issues at his ministry, Quader, however, asked the mobile courts to be lenient.

IK

 

 

 

 

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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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