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Dhaka Road Transport Owners' Association (DRTOA) has announced that buses and minibuses in the capital Dhaka and its neighbouring areas will continue to operate during the dawn to dusk strike (hartal) enforced by Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh on Sunday.

The association’s leaders also said buses on long distance routes might operate upon the availability of passengers. The decisions were taken during a meeting at the association’s office in the capital’s Bangla Motor on Thursday.

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The DRTOA usually watches over the operation of buses in various routes in the capital and different upazilas of Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Munshiganj and Manikganj while Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association and Bus-Truck Owners Association oversee the movement of buses on long-distance routes.

Presided over by the general secretary of DRTOA Khandaker Enayet Ullah, the association leaders met on Saturday morning to discuss what to do during the Hefazat strike on Sunday.

Several leaders attending the meeting said movement of buses remained suspended for two months because of coronavirus pandemic. Though operation of buses has resumed, passengers are not as many as before.

If buses and minibuses stops now, transport owners and workers will face losses again. The owners have sought assistance from the law enforcement agencies to ensure movement of vehicles during the strike, they added.

According to transport sources, pro-government people lead the transport owners and worker’s associations related to buses being operated in capital and its neighbouring areas and long routes.

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They usually announce that buses will continue to operate, if any anti-government organisation calls for a hartal. They even tried to operate buses with the help of law enforcement agencies amid the sabotage and arson attacks in 2013 and 2015.

Khandaker Enayet Ullah told Prothom Alo, “If enforcing a strike or any other programme is anyone’s right, then operating buses is our right too.”

“We will operate buses all over the country tomorrow (Sunday). We have sought assistance from the law enforcement agencies and it’s their duty to ensure safety,” he added.

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