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Though there is no gazette notification or the government’s announcement on half fare for students and this has been a practice even before the independence. A 11-point programme by the 'Chhatra Sangram Parishad' in 1969 also demanded for tickets at 50 per cent concession to the students travelling on bus, train, steamer and launch. The then-government implemented the demand of the students for half fare in the public transport after the 1969 mass uprising. And it also continued after the independence.

Even many public transports realised half fare from students in Dhaka city before the recent hike in bus fare. But public transports took away this privilege after hiking the fare and that is totally injustice. They argue when they negotiated with the government over the bus fare hike, the half fare for students was not mentioned. Incidents of blockades, vandalising buses, beating transport workers and students occurred in various places of Dhaka cantering students’ demand for half fare. A bus driver and his assistant misbehaved with a female student when she wanted to pay half of the fare. On the other hand, Chattra League allegedly carried out attacks on the protesting students and abducted a protesting student from a procession. Surprisingly, the government has been playing a silent role despite the anarchy on roads. As a result, passengers have been suffering from traffic congestion in the city.

Jatri Kalyan Samity (JSK) said half bus fare for students is not a demand, it is their rights. Also, it will not be right to deprive the students of their rights that they have been enjoying since before the independence. According to the JSK, students constitute 5-7 per cent of total passengers in Dhaka and even if they pay half fare, transport owners will not face any loss.

Income of transport workers may reduce if they realise half fare from students but transport workers will benefit more, if extortion is stopped in the transport sector.

The demand of the students is neither new nor illogical. Transport fare is fixed on weekly and monthly basis in almost all countries of the world and that is much less than route-based fare. Students travel by bus 5-6 days a week so they can demand for a half fare logically. Students’ study has been disrupted during long vacation amid coronavirus pandemic. And if they take to the streets for transport fare, then it will not be possible to recover their loss ever again.

We expect the government will be aware of the matter and sit with transport owners and find a solution.

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