They are set to hold sit-ins at deputy commissioners' offices of district headquarters to press home their demand on Sunday
Transport workers have demanded that the government resume public transport services that were suspended to contain the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The leaders of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation announced sit-ins at the deputy commissioners' offices of district headquarters to press home their demand on Sunday .
They made the announcement at a press conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Friday.
Osman Ali, secretary of the workers’ group, said the government should allow public transports to operate while maintaining health protocols, such as by keeping half of the seats vacant.
More than 50% transport workers are now jobless and starving, he added.
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He said that workers were never against the lockdown and never objected to the suspension of the public transports. However, as garments factories, kitchen markets and shopping malls are now open, public transports should resume as well.
Osman Ali further said suspending public transport and restricting the movement of the people was logical to curb the coronavirus, but the livelihoods of transport workers should be considered as well.
"As there are no public transports, people are having to pay extra fares for cars, microbuses, mini-trucks and motorcycles. All types of vehicles are on the road except for buses and trucks, which is agitating transport workers who are being deprived of their livelihoods," he added.
Osman Ali said five million transport workers are starving and in need of financial assistance.
He also demanded that the government provide rice at Tk10 per kg through open market sale (OMS) for transport workers.
Echoing the transport workers’ federation, the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association has demanded that buses be allowed to resume their operations while maintaining hygiene rules.
The organization’s President Mashiur Rahman Ranga and Secretary General Khandaker Enayet Ullah voiced the demand in a statement to the media on Friday.
If buses carry passengers at half capacity while adhering to health safety rules , there would be no possibility of spreading the coronavirus , they said.
“Eid is just around the corner. Hundreds of thousands of [transport] workers are out of work. Many poor owners are living miserable lives with bank loan installments on their shoulders,” the transport owners’ leaders said.
“In such circumstances, we, on behalf of all [transport] owners, urge the government to provide the out of work workers with food aid and allow the resumption of bus services,” the statement added.
The government imposed restrictions on public movement and gatherings in early April in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19. Although factories, shops and markets have already opened, public and private offices as well as public transport are still suspended. Emergency services are exempted from the restrictions.
On Friday, Bangladesh recorded 2,177 new Covid-19 cases and 57 deaths.