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Buses continue to stay off roads

Owners suspend services: Sufferings mount on long routes: Advance Eid ticket sales postponed

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Noman Mosharef :
Long-route bus services remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday as an apparent counter-programme against the ongoing student movement for safe road, causing immense sufferings to people across the country.
Earlier on Saturday, the bus operators declared suspension of long-distance bus services for an indefinite period on 'security grounds', which is likely to worsen further people's sufferings caused by the 'undeclared transport strike'.
The operators also postponed sale of advance bus tickets for Eid-ul-Azha, although it was scheduled to begin on Sunday.
No long-distance bus left or entered Dhaka through Gabtoli, Mohakhali and Saidabad bus terminals yesterday.
Kazi Wazed, Officer-in-Charge of Jatrabari Police Station, said that no inter- district bus left Saidabad bus terminal.
Khondaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, told the media, "No bus will operate as the situation has worsened."
"From now on, bus service will remain suspended for an indefinite period due to lack of security," he said.
Queried why they were suspending bus operation on highways when students were agitating in towns, cities and the capital, Enayet said, "Long-route buses have also come under attack." Road safety campaigners have said that whenever there was strong protest against anomalies in the transport sector, bus owners and transport leaders halted their services.
It was nothing but a trick to weaken the justified movement of the people, they said.
Ashis Kumar Dey, general secretary of National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways, said whenever any decision or action goes against the interest of the transport owners and workers, they go for "illegal strike, holding people hostage" and embarrass the government.
Such "hastily-called strikes", which cause huge public suffering, is illegal, he said. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at Gabtoli, Mohakhali and Syedabad inter-district bus terminals in the capital yesterday as no long-distance bus left the terminals. At Gabtoli, a huge number of passengers were seen looking for transport. Finding no buses, many of them rented pickups to reach their destination paying extra.
Belayet Hossain, a worker, along with his wife and children, had been waiting at Gabtoli since 7:00am yesterday. He had come to the capital from Sylhet the previous night.
"My son's right leg broke yesterday and doctors in Sylhet referred him to Dhaka for better treatment. But we decided to take him to Satkhira as one of our relatives who is a doctor works there," he told this reporter around 3:00pm.
"Now, how we will go there?" he asked.
The situation at the other two inter-district bus terminals in the capital was the same.
In Chattogram, people thronged the bus counters in Goribullah Shah Mazar area. However, all the ticket counters were closed. Similar situation prevailed in other districts, including Sylhet, Dinajpur and Pabna.
Meanwhile, the rush of people travelling in trains and launches increased in the last two days.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan held a meeting with labour leaders at his official residence at Mintu Road Saturday night. The meeting decided that transport workers would run buses if they were given security, said Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation General Secretary Osman Ali.

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