Transport workers stage protests demanding that the government resume public transport
The restriction on public movement has almost become ineffective as an increasing number of vehicles are seen plying on the roads with people rushing to shopping malls disregarding social distancing rules.
Although public transport remained suspended on Sunday, there were long tailbacks of vehicles on many streets in the capital.
People flouted health safety guidelines at many places as the country’s biggest religious festival Eid-ul-Fitr is approaching.
According to health experts, however, the restriction on public movement has effectively contributed to curbing the infection rate in the country.
At the same time, transport workers took to the streets demanding that the government resume highway buses ahead of Eid. They demonstrated in front of most of the bus terminals across the country on Sunday.
In Dhaka, they gathered in front of Sayedabad, Gabtoli, Mohakhali and Gulistan bus terminals.
Speaking at the protest rally at Mohakhali Bus Terminal, Sadikur Rahman Hiru, vice-president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation, said that the government should consider the livelihoods of the transport workers and owners.
Transport workers under the banner of Dhaka District Transport Workers’ Union brought out a procession in Gabtoli.
President of the union Abbas Uddin placed a three-point set of demands – resuming public transports, providing financial assistance and food aid to the transport workers, and giving them rice at Tk10 per kg through Open Market Sales (OMS).
In another development, transport workers brought out a procession under the banner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Road Transport Workers’ Union in Sayedabad area to press home their three-point demand.
On Saturday, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said that the government was considering the resumption of public transport services before Eid.
He also urged the transport owners and workers not to resort to protests over the issue.
Public transports have remained suspended in Bangladesh since April 5, when the government announced a countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Osman Ali, president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation, said: “Operation of public transport is necessary to keep the economy active. We have taken the statement of the road transport minister into account. We hope that the government will allow public transport to operate in a day or two.”
However, Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said that the government had not taken any decision on resuming operation of passenger trains.
He said: “Rail is also a public transport. So we can’t resume operations as per our will. We will follow the instructions of the government.”