The government only fixes the fares for non-AC buses, launches and trains while the fares of other transports are determined by the owners and workers. However, the bus and launch owners never accept the fares fixed by the government. Therefore, a fear of chaos still remains in public transport.
Fuel price hike was the hot topic among people at refueling stations, bus terminals and various markets in Dhaka on Saturday. A common question that arose among all, including guards, domestic helps and transport drivers, was how much the cost of living will increase.
At a garage of a multi-storied building on the central road in Dhaka on Saturday, some drivers and guards huddled together and were watching videos of public sufferings at the refueling stations. One of them said, “It seems we cannot take this pressure anymore. There was a hit at markets till the date and now it will spread everywhere.”
Determination of new fares
The government hiked bus fares across the country by an average of 27 per cent after the fuel price hike in November last year. However, there was a complaint against the transport owners and workers of charging more than the rate set by the government. Now, the bus fare has increased by 22 per cent on long-distance routes and by 16.5 per cent in cities.
As per new decision, per kilometer fare will increase by 40 paisa to Tk 2.20 for long-haul buses. Besides, there are tolls of different highways, bridges and ferries.
The fare increased by 35 paisa to Tk 2.50 per kilometer for city transports in Dhaka, Chattogram and other cities. The fare at mini-buses has been hiked from Tk 2.05 to Tk 2.40 per kilometer. However, the minimum fare at buses and mini-buses remained unchanged at Tk 10 and Tk 8 respectively.
The power, energy and mineral resources ministry had earlier hinted that the bus fare may rise by Tk 0.29 per kilometer while the launch fare by Tk 0.42 per kilometer. However, the government failed to retain its position as the increased fare exceeded its prediction.
The road transport and bridges ministry, in a meeting at BRTA office on Saturday, proposed a Tk 0.30 hike in per kilometer bus fare, but it failed to convince the transport owners.
After the 4.5 hour-meeting, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder announced the final rate of fare hike which came into effect on Sunday.
ABM Amin Ullah Noori, secretary of road transport and bridges ministry, said, “We have proposed the new fare in consultation with the minister, considering the interest of passengers and owners.”
Buses begin charging extra fare immediately
The transport owners and workers sat in the meeting at the BRTA office after 5:00 pm on Saturday, to fix a new fare following the price hike of fuel oil. The new fares were announced at 9:45 pm.
But the owners limited the number of buses on the roads across the country since Saturday morning, inflicting immense sufferings on the commuters. Moreover, the buses collected extra fares ranging from Tk 10 to Tk 200 from the commuters travelling inside Dhaka and on other long-routes. Even the CNG-run auto rickshaws took extra fare from the commuters.
People used motorcycles in large number in absence of bus on the roads and they also had to count extra fares.
A Tanjil Paribahan coach was taking Tk 25 for a trip from technical intersection to Firmgate and Tk 40 to Gulistan, against the actual fare of Tk 15 and Tk 25 respectively.
During a visit to Gabtoli bus terminal on Saturday morning, the long-haul buses were found to charge passengers an extra fare of Tk 50 to Tk 200. There were frequent altercations between the bus staff and passengers.
A trip from Dhaka to Kushtia on a Rajdhani Express coach normally costs Tk 400, but the bus staff collected Tk 500 from each of passengers on Saturday.
Iqbal Miya along with his wife came to Gabtoli for going to Jhenaidah in the morning. He said the buses are demanding Tk 700 per person while the actual fare is Tk 500 only. After a spell of argument, they took two tickets for Tk 1,200.
The counter master of Janani Paribahan told Prothom Alo that they are collecting additional Tk 100 from each passenger and some are paying an extra of Tk 50.
According to Prothom Alo correspondents across the country, a limited number of buses operated on Dhaka-Chattogram, Dhaka-Sylhet, Dhaka-Khulna, Dhaka-northern districts routes on Saturday. The bus staff collected extra fare from all passengers.