Goods-laden transport workers went on a 72-hour countrywide strike on Tuesday morning to press home their 15-point demands, including issuing of driving licences on easy conditions and stopping of extortion on highways.
Workers of Bangladesh Truck-Covered Van Owners’ Association and Bangladesh Truck Driver Workers’ Federation started work abstention at 6:00am, causing concern among importers, clearing and forwarding agents, shipping agents, and port users.
Import and export activities through Chattogram port were hampered to a great extent due to the strike.
Sources said loading and offloading and delivery of containers from the port came to almost halt due to the strike.
Prime movers, covered vans and trucks stopped entering the port to drop the export containers and take delivery of import containers since 6:00am.
The people concerned said the business activities will be affected largely and the traders will suffer a loss if the strike is not withdrawn immediately.
The port will also witness container and vessel congestions while the people will be the ultimate looser due to the situation, they said.
The demands include stopping the collection of advance income tax from truck and covered van owners, refunding the amount collected earlier and providing licences to drivers and workers, he said.
Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Mahbubul Alam said the strike will affect the country’s economy to a great extent and tarnish image of the country in international arena. These demands need to be addressed by negotiations instead of strike, he said.
Mentionable, around 4,000 TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) containers are delivered from the port every day.
Besides, 200 TEUs of export goods are taken to the port for shipping from 19 private ICDs and 500 containers of imported goods, including empty containers, are brought to the ICDs every day.
Officials concerned claimed if trucks and covered vans stop operating for 72 hours, some 12,000 containers will occupy the port yards.
Zafar Alam, general secretary of Bangladesh Truck-Covered Van Owners’ Association, said the strike was called as the authorities concerned were not complying with the demands of goods-laden transport owners and drivers.
“No trucks or covered vans are entering or leaving Chittagong port with goods. The strike will continue until our demands are met,” he added.
The demands include stopping collection of advance income tax from trucks and covered vans and refunding of advance income tax collected so far.
Now, the government has asked to pay the full tax including what's pending, Zafar Ahmed claimed.
Goods-laden transport owners and workers have demanded that police stop harassing them for bribes.
Transport workers brought out a rally in Saltgola area of the port city in support of the strike.
It was reported that there were no vehicles at the port to transport the goods on Tuesday morning. Usually, 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles go to the port every day for transporting goods.
As part of the countrywide strike, a 72-hour strike started in Barishal at 8am.
At that time, they stopped trucks, covered vans, prime movers, mini trucks and pickups coming from different districts in the Rahmatpur Airport area of Dhaka-Barishal Highway.
Hundreds of goods vehicles got stuck in it. A protest procession was held at 11:30 pm in support of the demand.
Azad Hossain Kalam Mollah, president of the district truck workers 'union, said the strike was enforced, demanding easy driving licences, stoppage of traffic police extortion on roads, lifting of restrictions on fund-raising of government-registered workers' unions in the transport sector.
The central committee will meet at 8pm. From there, the next instructions can be known.
On the other hand, Asaduzzaman Salam, general secretary of the district truck workers' union, said the strike would continue if the demand was not met.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Truck, Covered Van and Prime Mover Transport Owners Association called a 72-hour strike to stop the transportation of all types of goods except raw materials to Benapole Port.
Leaders of the Benapole Transport Owners 'Association and Truck Workers' Union enforced the strike at the land port at about 8am.
Asaduzzaman Asad, transport and port affairs secretary of the Benapole Transport Owners' Association, said the strike forced to stop the goods-laden transport from Benapole port.
Meanwhile, the Benapole Truck Transport Owners' Association distributed leaflets in the port area in support of the strike.