People suffer amid forced suspension of transportsMuktadir Rashid and Mohibub Zaman
Thousands of people in Dhaka and those headed for Dhaka suffered because of the sudden dearth of transport both in the capital and elsewhere in the country on Monday when the opposition BNP and its 17 party allies staged their rally in the city.
A number of bus owners said the trade unions loyal to the ruling party and its allies on Sunday night had verbally asked them not to ply their buses in the city routes, particularly the buses heading for Paltan and adjacent areas, from Monday morning to evening.
As most of the owners stopped plying their vehicles since morning, several thousand commuters were seen suffering due to lack of transport.
A bus owner, Sayed Rezaul Karim, also senior vice-president of the Association of Bus Companies, a platform of counter-based bus services, however, told New Age, ‘We stopped plying our buses because of lack of security. The services
will be normal from Tuesday morning.’
Hundreds of the people of all walks of life were seen either waiting for hours at the bus stops or start walking to their destinations. People also were seen struggling to catch vehicles. The worst suffers were woman and children.
Human haulers, CNG-run autorickshaws, motorised and non-motorised rickshaws were seen transporting commuters at much higher fares than usual, said commuters.
Aminul Islam, who intended to meet a doctor at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said that he waited for two hours to catch a vehicle at Mirpur 10 intersection but failed to find any.
Insiders of the transport sector said that some of the bus owners tried to ply their buses on Monday, defying the restriction of the trade unions loyal to the ruling party, but the local thugs allegedly snatched money from them at Gulistan terminal.
Kamruzzaman Roni, a driver of a route-3 bus of the Airport-Bangabandhu Avenue Paribahan, said he passed his day idly after the instruction of trade union leaders.
A number of buses carried people from Abdullahpur to Gulistan until 9:00am, but since then they were compelled to park their buses at the terminal.
At Mohakhali inter-district bus terminal, Badshah Mia, a counter manager of Dhaka to Tangail route’s Nerala Paribahan, admitted that no bus reached the terminal from other districts since the morning.
Only the buses of the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation were seen plying the city roads and were overloaded with passengers, said onlookers.
Other than the city bus services, the communications between Dhaka and the rest of the country were also disrupted since the early hours of Monday due to instructions from the local administration and Awami League members, alleged bus owners.
The police set up check-posts at every entry point of the capital and frisked passengers and pedestrians since morning at Nabinagar, Radio Colony, Savar bus stand, Hemayetpur, Bipail, Jirabo, Birulian Kheyaghat, Aminbazar and Kawandiya.
Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners’ Welfare Trust chairman GM Siraj, also the owner of SR Travels operating between Dhaka and northern districts, told New Age that Awami League men and the local administration had asked them on Sunday night to suspend services till Monday evening.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s spokesperson Monirul Islam, also the deputy commissioner of Detective Branch of police (south division), claimed that there was no transport crisis in the capital.
‘The police are actually trying to ensure the security of the city dwellers,’ he told the media.
At Sadarghat, a number of scheduled launches anchored at the terminal, but the owners alleged that the police had stopped the passengers at different terminals from boarding the launches.
Awami League-backed Jatiya Ghat Sramik League patrolled the areas adjacent to Sadarghat launch terminal and Buriganga River with sticks and iron rods to stop people from crossing the river to go to the capital.
A number of boats were damaged by Awami League supporters, alleged boatmen.
A businessman, Ibrahim Chowdhury, who came to Dhaka from Chandpur on Monday morning with his family, said that he saw the police checking launches before they anchored at Sadarghat.
Bangladesh Inland Waterways (passenger carrier) Association’s senior vice-chairman Md Baduuzzaman Badal told New Age that the police and Awami League men had started harassing them since 5:00am on Monday. The police did not allow any of launches to leave Narayanganj terminal since morning.
‘We appealed to the local administration but they did not pay heed,’ he alleged.
Juba League’s general secretary Mirza Azam told New Age on Monday that they had directed ward- and thana-level leaders to stay alert in their respective areas to ‘thwart’ any attempts by the opposition to unleash ‘anarchy’ in the name of movement.
A huge number of police were deployed in small groups at strategic points in the capital since the dawn.
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