Owners to run long route buses
Passengers suffer in tailbackShahin Akhter
Transport owners said they would run long-route buses from today even if they did not get protection from the police, while passengers suffered because of tailbacks for hours on Saturday during a two-day break from the enforced by opposition parties.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance has been enforcing blockades of roads, railways and waterways since November 26, 2013 with intervals on weekends putting Dhaka cut off from the rest of the country and causing disruption in transportation of goods throughout the country.
The government on December 18, 2013 asked owners to run intercity buses on highways from December 20, defying general strikes and blockades if any, and assured them of security on highways.
Following the instruction, the owners ran buses on trial basis on some short-distance routes including Dhaka-Tangail, Dhaka-Comilla, Dhaka-Madaripur, Dhaka-Gopalganj, Dhaka-Chandpur and Dhaka-Brahmanbaria under police protection.
They did not run buses on major long routes including Dhaka-Chitagong, Dhaka-Rajshahi or Dhaka-Khulna fearing violence and possible loss.
The prime minister in May 2013 assured that the transport owners, who incurred losses in country-wide agitations by the Jamaat and Hefajat since February 28, 2013 in which hundreds of buses and trucks were damaged or burnt, would be compensated.
The government, however, gave partial (about Tk 5 crore) in compensations for about 200 buses damaged at Mahakhali terminal while transport owners at Gabtoli and Saydabad terminals said they were yet to get any compensation.
According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Association, about 300 buses and trucks were burnt and 800 buses and trucks were vandalised in 2013 causing a loss of about Tk 100 crore.
The association secretary general K Enayet Ullah told New Age that they would run long-route buses today from the capital’s Mohakhali and Saydabad bus terminals.
Buses will run on every route if the passengers are available, he said.
He said, ‘We will not wait for police protection. How many days the transport owners and workers can sit at a home? This cannot be continued.’
Bangladesh Bus Truck Owners Association treasurer Mohammad Kamal Hossain said that the owners at the Gabtoli terminal decided to run long-route buses during blockades.
‘If passengers are available, we will run our buses,’ he said.
People, meanwhile, continued to suffer because of tailbacks for hours on different highways on Saturday, the second day of the two-day break of the blockade.
New Age correspondent in Tangail reported that vehicles were stuck in 40-km tailback from Gorai to Bangabandhu Bridge (East) on Dhaka-Tangail highway since early Saturday till afternoon.
Tangail district traffic inspector Mohammad Arifur Rahman said that the congestion had started because of dense fog and huge rush of different transports.
Kamol, Ratan and Sabina, passengers of a Dhaleswari Paribahan bus, said that they had left Mohakhali bus terminal at about 5:30am and till 2.00pm they reached Pakulla.
Another passenger Aftabuddin Khan said that he had started his journey to Dhaka from Bogra in the morning and had to change his bus walking at least 10km from Jamuna East to Elenga to get in another Dhaka-bound bus.
Bulbul Islam, a Dhaka-Rajshahi passenger, said that he left Dhaka at around 5:00am. ‘We were supposed to reach Rajshahi by 10:00am, but our bus is still stuck at Elenga in Tangail till 3:00pm.’
Traffic congestions were also seen on Dhaka-Chittagong highway at Chandina, Daudkandi and Kanchpur, Hatikumrul highway in Sirajganj and Mawa-Kewrakandi ferry ghat.
Bus operators at Mohakhali terminal said that Dhaka-Bogra route buses were 10 hours late and Dhaka-Mymensingh route buses were three hours late because of tailbacks.
Bus operators at Gabtoli bus terminal said that most of the buses on the country’s northern routes were six to seven hours late.
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