Dhaka-bound transports grounded in districts

REF:  Local administrations have allegedly ordered that long-route buses, trucks and ferries to the capital from the districts be grounded until further orders two days ahead of the Opposition’s march to Dhaka and its rally in the capital. Launch-tm Transport strikes have also been called in places.Since Friday morning, transports from many southern districts including Barisal to Dhaka was put off.   Passengers, owners and workers also from Patuakhali, Jhalakathi and Chuadanga have said transports were grounded.Buses from other districts in the Khulna Division have also been halted. Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia has urged the people to converge on Dhaka to join the BNP-led 18-Party alliance’s rally in a move to thwart the Jan 5 general election.Ruling Awami League leaders have threatened to resist it if any act of violence or sabotage took place. Barisal-Dhaka route shut Bus and launch services from Barisal to Dhaka have come to a stop amid fears of violence ahead of the Opposition programmes. Supervisor of the Parabat Launch Company in Barisal, Selim Ahmed, said no vessels were leaving for Dhaka on Friday night. He told bdnews24.com: “The local administration had asked us around 7:45pm to stop launch services.” As a result, no ferry, including four that were supposed to, has left for Dhaka, he said.

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Meanwhile, no bus had left Barisal since 11:30am on Friday, said Aftab Hossain, President of the Barisal Bus Owners’ Association. He said, “The owners themselves have stopped operating their vehicles from Barisal to Dhaka, fearing damage to their property.” Bus owners and workers were taking no chances, he said, as buses and people had been burnt in the name of shutdowns and blockades. They feared there could be more violence over Sunday’s BNP-led 18-Party alliance’s rally, Hossain added. The ticketing staff at counters at Dhaka’s Sayedabad Bus Terminal said none of their bus had started for the capital from Khulna, Bagerhat and Pirojpur since morning. Two buses had started from Dhaka for Bagerhat and Pirojpur but none had started from the two districts, Baleshwar Paribahan ticket-seller ‘Hira’ told bdnews24.com. He said, “Police are not allowing the buses to run citing safety issues. That’s why we cannot run our buses.” Baleshwar Paribahan transports passengers via launch. It takes them to Mawa Ghat, where they cross the Padma River and take another bus to Bagerhat, Pirojpur or Khulna. The same procedure is followed when passengers start for Dhaka from these districts. Falguni Paribahan counter officer Shafiqul Islam told bdnews24.com: “None of our buses are coming from Khulna, Bagerhat, Rayenda or Pirojpur. “We took the risk of running a vehicle in the morning. Not sure whether it will get any ferry.” No vehicles would leave the terminal without permission from the transport owners, he said. Sundarban Paribahan counter’s Masud Alam said almost the same thing. “No vehicles are coming in. If all vehicles go in the same direction, we will face problems. So we are running our buses from here carefully.” Buses, launches grounded in Patuakhali Dhaka-bound buses and launches from Patuakhali were grounded, but police failed to say anything about the situation. Patuakhali Port police outpost Sub-Inspector Md Delwar Hossain said he had no idea whether no launches would leave for Dhaka. Port official Md Badrul Alam’s office was closed on Friday afternoon. He was also unreachable when tried over phone. Staff of different launches, asking not to be named, told bdnews24.com that police officials came and asked them to not let any launch leave for Dhaka until further notice. Bus movement shut in Jhenidah No bus via Jhenidah bus terminal left for Dhaka since Friday noon. Seeking anonymity, one staff at a ticket counter said high officials had ordered them to stop all Dhaka-bound buses. However, Superintendent of Police of the district Altaf Hossain said police did not stop any bus from leaving for the capital. He said no bus went to Dhaka directly from Jhenidah. Dhaka-bound buses from Meherpur, Chuadanga and Jessore picked up passengers from Jhenidah, so there was nothing they could do if those do not start from those places, Hossain added. Launch, bus from Jhalakathi off

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Dhaka-bound launches and long-route buses remained grounded in Jhalakathi since Friday afternoon. Hanif Paribahan counter in-charge at Jhalakathi bus terminal Kamal Hossain told bdnews24.com: “We have cancelled the trips following order from the owners.” Sundarban-2 launch’s Jhalakathi counter in-charge Md Hanif said owners had decided to not run the launches to avoid possible violence and sabotage. Buses grounded in Chuadanga Meanwhile, transport workers stopped running buses from Chuadanga citing an order from the local administration, but district administration officials denied issuing any such order. Chuadanga District Bus Truck Transport Workers Union President M General Islam said the administration had verbally asked them to stop Dhaka-bound bus movement until Sunday. Seeking anonymity, many transport workers said all Dhaka-bound buses coaches stayed off the road since 11am Friday following the order. However, Chuadanga District Road and Transport Owners Association General Secretary Abul Kalam said they did not take any decision to not run the Dhaka-bound buses. Superintendent of Police in the district Md Rashidul Hasan said, “We did not issue any ban. I don’t know why the owners have stopped running the buses.” Chuadanga Deputy Commissioner Delwar Hossain also echoed the SP. “The owners may have stopped the buses to avoid losses due to lack of passengers.” bdnews24.com Correspondent Abdul Momin from Chuadanga had said he was supposed to take a bus to Dhaka at 1:30pm on Friday. But bus counter staff called him around 11:30am and said no buses would leave until further notice. 48-hour strike in Rangpur Divisional unit of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation have called a 48-hour transport strike at eight districts in Rangpur Division protesting against death of workers, vandalism and torching of vehicles during the Opposition’s recent shutdowns and nationwide blockades. The strike started at 6pm Friday and will end at 6pm Sunday. No long-route buses, cars, SUVs from these eight districts will leave for Dhaka in the next 48 hours, said the Federation’s General Secretary Abdul Majid. But long-route goods-carrying trucks and inter-district buses would be out of the strike’s purview. Transport strike in Bagerhat too District Motor Workers Union has started enforcing a transport strike in Bagerhat since Friday morning demanding immediate arrests of the accused in cases filed over vandalism on buses during the Opposition’s blockades and assault on workers. Since the morning, no long-route buses left from Bagerhat central bus terminal.

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The platform has also threatened to shut down transport operations on 16 inter-district routes if the accused are not detained by Dec 30. Its President ‘Talukder’ said supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir had vandalised at least 50 vehicles and beateb several transport workers during the blockades of the 18-Party alliance. At least five cases have been lodged over these incidents, but police are yet to make any arrests. Superintendent of Police in Bagerhat Md Nizamul Haque Molla told bdnews24.com that they were trying to arrest the accused. Buses in Pirojpur put off Pirojpur District Bus Owners-Workers Union President ‘Hannan’ and General Secretary Saidul Islam said they would keep the buses grounded as there were not enough passengers. They will also keep the long-route buses off the roads from Saturday in keeping with the indefinite transport strike, he said. The manager of a bus service at Pirojpur bus terminal, asking not to be named, said they were ‘unofficially warned’ against letting any bus leave for Dhaka until further notice. However, three launches had left for the capital on Friday afternoon from the district’s Hularhat launch terminal, said the terminal’s supervisor ‘Julu’.

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