Commuters have expressed their resentment over the transport owners’ demand for fresh hike of fare after the government’s imposition of new restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Terming the demand illogical, they have urged the government not to entertain such unlawful demands for the greater interest of the people.
According to sources, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority is likely to sit with the transport owners today to reassess the transport fare amid the government’s fresh restrictions.
Criticising the move, commuters said any new hike in the transport fare will be intolerable for the commuters.
Asked about the move of transport owners, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Chairman Ghulam Rahman said, “Commuters are the regular victims of the transport sector’s anarchy. Transport owners do whatever they like as the government always accepts their demand. It happens as the transport owners are too powerful and have strong political connections.”
“Governments of most of the countries are asking transport owners to operate their vehicles at half capacity. But how many of them are demanding fare hike?” he posed a question.
Sabbir Ahmed Sakib, a commuter who needs to travel on the capital’s Rampura-Motijheel route every day, said, “The rate of bus fare hike is already excessive. Then why the transport owners are placing such demand? Actually they never think about the impact of such move.”
Apart from criticising the demand of the transport owners, different social organisations have criticised the government’s instruction of running vehicles at half capacity.
Sommilito Samajik Andolon General Secretary Saleh Ahmed said, “Leaving everything open, the announcement of running public transport with half-passenger will create new complications. In the past, when such directives were issued it was not obeyed. Instead, extra fares have been imposed on passengers.” The government on Monday announced a set of new pandemic restrictions taking the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and its new variant Omicron, a highly contagious coronavirus variant, into consideration.
Authorities have made it mandatory to carry COVID-19 vaccination certificates for all drivers and assistants of trains, buses and launches.
The new rules will come into effect from tomorrow and will remain in place until further notice.
The latest development mirrors the government’s steps last year when the fares of public transport were raised by 60 percent to operate at half capacity.
This time their demand comes on top of a 27 percent fare hike for buses and 35 percent for launches, which was approved in November last year due to a rise in fuel prices.
Badiuzzaman Badal, vice-president of Bangladesh Inland Waterways Passenger Carrier Association (BIWPCA), said, “We operated launches at half capacity in the past but the business counted heavy toll.”
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association, said, “We won’t even make enough money to pay for the fuel if we run at half capacity. We have a meeting with BRTA on Wednesday and the further decision in this regard will be taken there.”
Ramesh Chandra Ghosh, chairman of the Bus-truck Owners’ Association, said, “We have to cover fuel costs and pay drivers. Last time, the fares were raised on the basis of an overall assessment.”
Mentioning that the Road Transport and Highways Division will come up with a decision on the matter, Nur Mohammad Mazumder, Bangladesh Road Transport Authorities (BRTA) Chairman, said, “We still have a day in hand. We will take steps according to what the ministry decides.”