Transport fare hike increases woes of middle-class

11 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh is now a noteworthy developing country in the South-Asian region. No one can disavow that Bangladesh’s economic growth is happening very rapidly. For any country, economic growth is one of the vital tools for reaching higher standards in the world.

Looking at the growth of GDP, we must say that Bangladesh has attained unprecedented success in the last 10 to 15 years. Hundreds of developments including Metro Rail, Padma Bridge, Karnaphuli Tunnel, Matarbari Deep Sea Port, Ruppur Nuclear Power Plants are building a Bangladesh of possibilities, and these successes of the present government made the way easier for a better position in the world sphere.

According to a UK research agency, Centre for Economics and Business Research, “If this economic growth of Bangladesh continues, Bangladesh will become the 25th economically powerful country in the world by 2030-35 to surpass Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore”. We can't renounce these remarkable current gains. If anyone denies these then he is biased for self-interests or party ideals. This is a comprehensive and facile argument.

But, there are some "buts”. Let's look at the economic system of Bangladesh before explaining those "buts". The economic system of Bangladesh can be called a "tri-formed" (mixed) economy. They are:

1. Capitalist Economy.

2. Communist Economy.

3. Islamic Economy.

Though the chain of supply and demand is in the hands of capitalist corporates, most of the institutions related to the state run in the socialist system. Examples are government hospitals, government transports like BRTC, etc. Even if a millionaire takes a ride in these transports, he has to pay the same money as a beggar. In addition, the Islamic economy exists in the Muslim families, society and at different levels of the state in Bangladesh. The economic system of Bangladesh, on the whole, is more or less a Mixed Economy.  If any reader is interested to know more they can check out the book “Bangladesh and World Affairs” of ninth-tenth class of secondary level.

Now, let's talk about the "buts":

1. The quality of life of ordinary people i.e. Living Standard of Mass People:

We are still far behind in this place. Gross domestic products (GDP) provide an outcome or consequence in this capitalist economic system by which you can never assume the overall development of every person at the grass-root level in the country, let alone infer the quality of living standard. Even, though the per capita income is estimated at 2064 US dollars (nominal), according to last year's estimation, the main scheme is that it's the financial rich capitalists' money that gets counted as an average of GDP even for any day-labourer. The matter of regret is that while day-labourers remain poor and the capitalists become richer.

2. Covid-19 is a blessing for capitalists:

Since Covid-19 in Bangladesh, we have seen extreme paws of Corona. It ruined the middle-class families’ roots and branches. Millions of families have faced huge catastrophe, falling on the wayside. 'Mother commits suicide for not being able to feed her child' – such news we had to see. After the situation became slightly normal, many people have engaged in different activities, but their families have not yet been able to return to the old rhythm. For them the ranking of Bangladesh in the index of the World Bank is immaterial, their fundamental concern is to get two handfuls of rice twice a day.

3. Increase of 60 per cent transport fare:

Even though people could easily accept the increase in fare in the early days of Corona, it is not acceptable now. The reason being that the fare got increased extremely but the issue of 'one seat one passenger' is not complied by the transport companies. Moreover, about 70-80 per cent buses on City routes are private buses. They don’t care about ensuring 'one seat one passenger' rule in most cases. Although BRTC transports obey the rules in many cases but they are few in number. But the bus drivers of the Road Transport Owners Association are also reluctant to follow the rules and they treat passengers like servants.

On the one hand, peoples’ income decreased, on the other hand, bus fare increased. Verily, there is distressful economic pressure on the middle-class people. For example in a route of Feni district, before Covid-19 it cost 10 taka to go to Mohipal from Khayara Bazar, after Corona it became 15 taka, still the position of the seating is the same as before. In recent times of the second wave, the fare is about 20-25 taka, but without 'one seat one passenger' even now. Interestingly, even after Corona is gone, this fare will not be reduced. It will stay the same! There is no limit to exploitation!

4. Profit-Loss calculations:

Ultimately, the overall profit is all for the capitalists. Transport fare is increasing but passengers are not safe. Even if Corona goes, the fare will not decrease, it will remain constant. There is “no problem” for the rich. They are giving tax to the government. The government believes in free will, because of which the government is not stopping this unfair exploitation.

At the end of the day, the middle class are being exploited by the liberal capitalists. Here, none are at fault, the fault is of the structure and the system. The antithesis of this may never come in the middle-income family fate, as they have no choice but to accept suppression and exploitation. Overall, the government should undertake proper policies to handle this burning issue. The market is open, the crowds are still appearing on the footpath in this lockdown, but the fates of middle-income families are burned. Government should reconsider this issue and reduce public transport fare.


Kawsar Uddin Mahmud is a student of

Department of International Relations,

University of Dhaka