Transport owners, workers pressing for irrational demand

Prothom Alo illustration

The 11-point demand that was stated in the letter sent by Bangladesh Transport Owners-Workers Coordination Council to the prime minister on 22 February is not only irrational but also an ill-effort to create disorder on the roads. The letter has directly or indirectly challenged the measures that the government has taken to bring discipline and reduce accidents on the roads.

An initiative on route rationalisation has been taken many days ago to bring discipline on the movement of bus in Dhaka city, but that could not be implemented due to the opposition from vested quarters. Movement of bus has been introduced through a coordinated system on three routes after discussions for long and more buses are likely to go on operation in other routes gradually. Prior to it, former Dhaka North City Corporation mayor Anisul Huq introduced this system on Hatirjheel-Gulshan route and commuters are getting its benefit now.

Buses of various companies are being operated on various routes in Dhaka causing a disorder. Two college students were killed due to a race between the buses of two companies on the airport road in Dhaka on 31 July 2018. Student waged a nationwide road safety movement following the tragedy and forced the government to enact the Road Transport Act.

Now the Bangladesh Transport Owners-Workers Coordination Council is pressing demand for relaxing the Road Transport Act and allowing the operation of other companies’ buses on the rationalised routes in Dhaka and that is totally irrational. Their other demands include reducing punishment of driver over accidents and not stopping bus counters until terminal are built outside Dhaka.

Operating bus counters here and there is one of the main reasons for traffic jam in Dhaka city. Previously, the Bus Route Rationalisation Committee led by Dhaka South City Corporation mayor announced no bus couther will be operated other than the bus terminal in Dhaka after 1 April.

The letter of the Bangladesh Transport Owners-Workers Coordination Council further states, “Transport owners and workers from Dhaka have played a special role for the government during the worst day of Awami League and the sabotage of BNP-Jamaat.” Several lawmakers, who played direct role in the enactment of Road Transport Act, singed in this letter and now they themselves want to break the law.

Now, transport owners and workers' leaders want ‘return’ from the government by taking advantage of their special role. But the government must keep in mind that passengers or commuters in Dhaka cannot be held hostage to be a vested quarter. No constitution of any transport owners and workers’ association states that they can play special role for any political party either. It is the responsibility of transport owners and workers to provide service to passengers.

Nirapad Sarak Chai chairman Ilias Kanchan told Prothom Alo, “Transport owners and workers never cooperated to bring discipline on the roads. Transport owners and workers get everything they want and nothing happen other their will. They are trying to justify the disorder on the roads by raising these demands.”

It is the responsibility of the government to restore discipline on roads, not to instigate disorder. If the government gives in to the undue demands of transport owners and workers ahead of the election, nothing more can be unfortunate than this.