Bus passengers in the capital have been the victims of a double whammy following the recent 60 per cent bus fare-hike amid the coronavirus pandemic. Bus owners and workers are supposed to collect the fare at the rate fixed by the government. But in reality, they are allegedly collecting double or triple the fare taking the passengers hostage.
As to why, the increase in bus fares has on the one hand pushed up the cost of living of passengers, mostly belonging to lower middle and middle class households. On the other hand, they are often getting involved in unwanted altercation with the transport workers. The administration has also directed every vehicle to maintain health regulations related to passengers. Bus owners have been asked to keep hand sanitisers at their entrances.But, during the past three days, it has been observed that some buses followed the health rules, while others flouted them, including maintenance of social distancing. Even a considerable number of passengers had no mask on their faces. The Road Transport and Bridges Minister through a videoconferencing from his official residence on Monday called upon the passengers and transport workers to abide by the hygiene rules announced by the government. He urged the bus owners and workers to operate the vehicles in compliance with the hygiene and conditions. He warned that stern steps will be taken if the health guidelines are not followed and social distancing is not maintained in public transport.
Health experts fear that the silent carriers of the virus would wreak havoc in near future if the health rules are not maintained properly. In such a situation, expansion of the state-owned Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) services on various routes will go a long way to tackle the whims of private transport owners and workers. The law enforcement agencies must also strictly oversee the implementation of the government directives. Regular drives should be conducted through mobile courts to see the government directives are followed. This is the only way to avert a probable disaster.