Monday 5, June 2023

Chaos continues in transport sector

News Desk: Sufferings of passengers on roads, the railway and waterways continued for the third consecutive day on Monday due to the charging of extra fares and the crisis of transports.

People continued to pay in excess of fixed fares on buses, CNG-run auto-rickshaws and contract-based transports while charges for goods-carrying transports also increased by up to 50 per cent.

A huge pressure was seen on trains on the day, especially on long routes due to higher fares in buses.

Though the authorities published fare rates for inter-district buses, most of them did not display the rates on Monday.

With the government set to increase launch and train fares, the shipping ministry on the day met owners to readjust the launch fares but the meeting ended without any decision.

However, a proposal was made to increase launch fares by 19.5 per cent to 50 per cent against the launch owners’ demand for a 100 per cent hike.

On the day, railways ministry officials said that they were considering hiking the train fares too.

People from all walks of life continued to suffer on Monday in the capital due to the lack of adequate public transports and the charging of higher fares by the transport workers.

Although the number of buses on the city roads increased marginally compared with the past two days, the usual city traffic congestion was not seen in most of the capital on the day.

Mohammd Iqbal, a passenger of a Paristhan Paribahan bus alleged that the bus charged Tk 15 as minimum fare.

‘Earlier, they took Tk 10 but are now charging Tk 15,’ he added.

Asked about the allegation, the driver’s assistant of the bus admitted that they were taking Tk 15 as minimum fare.

‘We are also charging Tk 5 more than the previous fare for all stations,’ he added.

At Science Laboratory, Md Jony, a Mirpur Link bus passenger, said that he had to pay Tk 40 in place of Tk 30.

Most of the inter-districts buses were found charging up to 20 per cent higher fares than before.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority on Sunday published fare charts for the inter-district buses throughout the country, including from the capital.

However, the ticket counters of many inter-district bus companies at Kalyanpur, including Saintmartin Paribahan, Hanif Paribahan and SP Golden Line, did not have the government-set fare chart for inter-districts buses displayed.

Shaymoli Paribahan counter clerk Md Enamul, however, showed the fare chart for long-route buses.

People were seen waiting for buses at various points in the capital, including Azimpur, Nilkhet, Science Laboratory, Shyamoli, Kalyanpur, Mirpur-1, Mirpur-2.

Md Taleb, a businessman, along with his wife and school-going son, was found waiting for bus at Mirpur-2.

‘I have been waiting for bus for 15 minutes. The number of buses is low and those running are heavily crowded,’ said Taleb, adding that the situation was tougher for woman and children.

‘The transport workers are charging fare at will as the government is yet to give any fare chart,’ he said.

People also had to pay higher amounts to other transports like CNG-run auto-rickshaws, rickshaws and illegal contract-based ridesharing motorcycle services.

‘I usually went to the secretariat area from Farmgate by motorcycle for Tk 100 before the fuel price hike,’ said Shuvro, a student, adding, ‘Today I had to pay Tk 120 for the same distance.’

Urmi Hasan, a resident of Dhanmondi said that she got on a motorcycle using Uber, a ridesharing company, and once she reached the destination the biker asked for extra on account of the fuel price hike.

A BRTA press release issued on Monday said that it had realised Tk 2,60,500 in fines under 84 cases in Dhaka and Chattogram by conducting 12 mobile courts on charges of irregularities, including charging higher fares, not having route permits and fitness certificates, route violations and driving at illegal speed.

Besides, it jailed four brokers and dumped five vehicles, the release added.

Our reporter in Chattogram reported that transport workers in the port city on Monday continued to charge extra fares from passengers.

CNG-run vehicles, too, charged extra money saying that the government has increased fare. Some passengers got locked into altercations with transport workers over extra fare.

Belayet Hossain, general secretary of the Chattogram Metropolitan Transport Owners Group, told us that they directed the transport workers not to seek extra fares from the passengers.

BRTA’s executive magistrate in Chattogram Shahriar Mukhtar said that they would take actions against the transports that would charge extra.

Railways secretary Md Humayun Kabir on Monday said that the Bangladesh Railway saw huge pressure of passengers on trains after the fuel price hike.

‘Especially, on long routes, people are crowding trains to save money,’ he added.

Launch operators were also seen charging extra money as much as the passengers could pay on different routes.

Since Saturday, the fares for goods-carrying vehicles on roads increased by almost 50 per cent on different routes, said Bangladesh Kanchamal Arot Malik Samity president Md Emran Master.

Time Reporter in Brahmanbaria reported that many goods-carrying vehicles were seen lying idle on roads at Ashuganj in the district as many did not operate owing to ‘low’ fares.

Md Zakaria Mustafa, Brahmanbaria district food controller, said that the flow of food items to the district was low.

The shipping ministry on Monday sat with launch owners at the ministry to fix launch fares.

After the meeting, shipping ministry secretary Md Mostafa Kamal told a press briefing that they formed a seven-member working committee to recommend new fare rates within the day, which would be sent to State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury for approval.

The working committee at the meeting proposed to hike launch fares by 19.5 per cent to 50 per cent.

Earlier, the Bangladesh Inland Waterways (Passenger Carriers) Association on Sunday gave a proposal to the government to increase the fares of passenger vessels by about 100 per cent, seeking Tk 4.60 for a kilometre in place Tk 2.30 for the first 100 kilometres and Tk 4 for a kilometre in place of Tk 2 after 100 kilometres.

‘We are considering this rate excessive,’ Mostafa Kamal said and added that that fares would be readjusted reasonably.

Railways ministry secretary Md Humayun Kabir on Monday said that they were considering readjustment of train fares in view of the price hike of fuels.

‘We are yet to take any decision,’ he said, adding, ‘We are internally examining daily operational expenses of the trains and comparing these against road transports and after this we would take the decision.’

If they make any proposal to increase train fares they would send the proposal to the prime minister’s office for approval, he continued.

The government, in a statement late on Friday, revised the prices of fuel oils, raising the prices of petrol, diesel, octane and kerosene by almost 50 per cent.

Following the fuel price hike, the government on Saturday increased the fares of diesel-run buses by 16 –22 per cent.


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