Owners want to charge 60 per cent extra fare to run buses and minibuses, carrying half capacity of passengers following the government instructions.
The bus owners made this demand at a meeting with the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) on Monday after the government issued directives to operate with half the passenger capacity to contain the coronavirus infection. The BRTA is sending this demand to the ministry of road transport in the form of a proposal. If the ministry approves, the additional fare on public transport will be effective.
After the outbreak of coronavirus in the country last year, the government decided to run buses with 50 per cent passengers. Public transport operated with the directives for two months with increased fares by 60 per cent.
As the Covid transmission continues to increase, the government issued an 18-point directive on Monday. Public transport has to comply with hygiene rules and cannot carry more passengers than half of the capacity.
The BRTA held a meeting with the owners and workers in the evening as part of preparations to implement the government directives. BRTA director (Engineering) Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas told Prothom Alo that the meeting discussed a proposal to increase bus-minibus fares by 60 per cent.
Secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association Khandaker Enayetullah told Prothom Alo, whatever the government decides, the owners and workers will abide by it.
It has been directed in the meeting to make it mandatory for bus, minibus drivers, assistants and passengers to wear masks. Hand sanitizer should be kept on the bus.
BRTA officials, however, argued that public and private organisations were closed when the decision was made last year and passengers were limited at the time.
They said, since all the offices are open and passenger traffic is also normal, there are doubts as to how much the decision to run public transport with half the seats will be accepted.