Commuters, ride-sharing service providers stage protests
The guidelines imposed by the government are seldom being followed on public transports despite the recent surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths across the country.
Apart from some “seating service” buses, most local and BRTC double-decker buses have been carrying passengers at full capacity in violation of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) order directing them to ply with 50% capacity.
Buses must keep hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays and ought to be disinfected after each trip, according to the guidelines, but these rules are being blatantly disobeyed as well.
It was also found that passengers were allowed to get on most of the buses without needing to wear masks.
In light of the current Covid-19 situation, the government had directed public transports, including buses and launches, to leave half of the seats vacant while hiking fares by 60% for 14 days starting from Wednesday. They were also instructed to always adhere to health guidelines.
Meanwhile, passengers claimed that many buses were charging double the original fare instead of the prescribed 60% more.
Irked by the overall situation, agitated commuters on Thursday staged a demonstration to protest the transportation chaos.
However, the BRTA has yet to take any visible measures to handle the situation.
Dhaka Tribune was unable to contact BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder over the phone despite several attempts.
Several officials, meanwhile, said the BRTA would operate mobile courts at the entry and exit points of the city and some other major places from Sunday to roll back the chaos.
Large numbers of people were seen queuing up on roads and at bus stoppages across the city since the morning, awaiting their turn to get on a bus.
Unhappy office-goers and commuters on Thursday staged a demonstration at Dhaka’s Khilkhet bus stoppage after failing to find transportation following fresh guidelines issued by the government.
They commuters blocked the road and started their protest at around 9am.
The office-goers kept the road blocked for an hour and traffic movement on the road resumed at around 10am, said Khilkhet police station OC Munshi Sabbir Hossain.
Motorcyclists demonstrate against ride-sharing ban
Motorcyclists in Dhaka took to the streets to protest the ban on ride-sharing services imposed in line with the new restrictions on public movement, which came into effect on Wednesday.
On Thursday, hundreds of motorcyclists blocked several city roads and demonstrated in many areas, including Jatrabari, Shahbagh and before the National Press club, demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.
However, they called off the protests soon and announced their plan to demonstrate before the National Press Club again on Sunday.
The protesters, who depend on income from ride-sharing services under different apps, complained that the ban had jeopardized their livelihood and put their families in distress.
Deen Islam, one of the disgruntled protesters, said: "Even if we just stand still on roads, police do not hesitate to book us. How are we supposed to make a living? After losing our jobs we are completely dependent on ride-sharing services for our income."
50% rule not followed by launches
The Shipping Ministry had issued a circular asking launches to carry passengers at 50% capacity with a 60% hike in fares from Thursday.
However, launch operators claimed they had received the directive on Thursday and said they would follow the rules starting from Friday.
“Directives imposed by the Shipping Ministry will be obeyed from Friday as many owners were informed about the circular only today,” said a launch owner.