Saturday, November 30, 2019 11:17:04 PM
Staff Reporter :
Water routes across the country came to shut from Friday midnight as transport workers went on an indefinite strike.
The strike began on Friday midnight, causing immense sufferings to the commuters and hampering business activities.
Bangladesh Water Transport Workers Federation (BWTWF) called the indefinite strike to push for their 11-point demand, including pay hike and risk allowance.
No passenger carrying vessel left Dhaka's Sadarghat terminal since the strike started.
Unloading of 32 lakh tonnes of imported goods from 1,343 cargo vessels remain suspended throughout the country.
Of the total, 57 large mother vessels are waiting at the outer anchorage of Chattogram Port to unload 13.63 lakh tonnes of imported goods.
These goods included coal, stone, industrial raw materials like cement clinker, slag, fertiliser and different commodity items.
Goods imported by the big sized mother vessels are usually unloaded to lighter vessels at the outer anchorage of Chattogram Port and then transported to around 37 private jetties and several other jetties owned by the industrial plants across the country. Meanwhile, transportation and unloading of another 12.89 lakh tonnes of goods, which has been loaded at 986 lighter vessels and are now standing at 37 different ghats including Majhirghat at Chattogram, Narayanganj, Mirpur, Noapara, Baghabari, Barishal and Patuakhali came to a halt due to the work abstention, according to the data collected from Water Transport Cell (WTC), a private organisation that controls a big portion of these lighter vessels.
In Khulna, operation of lighterage vessels remained suspended at Mongla and Khulna Ports since Friday midnight.
Sheikh Fakhar Uddin, Harbour Master Commander of Mongla Port Authority, said movement of lighterage, cargo, barge, oil tanker and coasters was suspended as all workers had joined the strike.
No vessel left Mongla for Jashore's Noapara, while over 700 vessels were seen anchored at the Ports.
Delwar Hossain, General Secretary of Khulna Zila Water Transport Workers' Federation, said workers abstained from unloading and carrying goods from local and foreign vessels.
Passengers suffered as movement of all types of vessels remained halted on 33 routes including Dhaka's Sadarghat, Chandpur, Barishal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Pirojpur, Vandira and Jhalakathi.
In Chandpur, all launch routes were closed from around 12:01am on Saturday.
Passengers are suffering due to the strike; some are going back homes and some are taking bus routes.
Saiful, a patient from Lakshmipur, said: "I was on my way to Dhaka for treatment, but now I have reached Chandpur to find out that all launch routes have been closed down. "I have no idea how I shall reach Dhaka now."
Dhaka-Chandpur Bogdadia Launch Owner's representative Biplob Sarker said: "None of the launch staff are present, for which no launch has left Chandpur.
"However, Bogdadia and Sonartori launch left Dhaka Port for Chandpur."
Chandpur Port Officer Abdur Razzak said: "No launch staff came to work. "Though some launch owners were trying to start the service, it was not possible as none of the staff was present."
No passenger vessel left Barishal terminal since Friday dawn. Commuters are going through immense suffering due to the recent road transport strike and subsequent water transport strike. Local BWTWF leader Ekin Ali said, "The strike will continue until the owners meet the demands."
The agitated workers alleged, they had to go on strikes in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 demanding the same issues. But, the owners have never met their demands after frequent assurance.
The water transport workers in Narayanganj expressed their solidarity with the movement following their abstention in work since early Saturday.
However, the operation of all types of passenger and cargo vessels in the city's terminal remained suspended except a few ones.
Passengers have been seen waiting and suffering at the terminal.
Water transport workers organised human chain and demonstration at the terminal on Saturday morning.
Bangladesh Water Transport Worker Staff Union General Secretary Shabuj Sikdar said, "The owners have been sabotaging workers' rights after giving frequent assurances."
"No assurance can stop the strike till the demands are realized properly," said Sikdar.
In Patuakhali , the strike caused immense suffering to the passengers, specially hundreds of students who wanted to sit for the admission test at Patuakhali Science and Technology University.
The local people feared that the price of essential commodities might increase following the strike.
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