Staff Correspondent: The Bangladesh Passengers Welfare Association yesterday came down hard on the government for being transport-owner friendly, instead of passenger-friendly during a press conference to protest the recent hike in fares.
The association also highlighted the recent accusations by passengers of being harassed and pushed off buses for refusing to pay fares higher than what has been fixed by the government.
Secretary General of the organisation Mohammed Hague Chowdhury, at the conference held in Dhaka Reporters Unity premises, said, “The government, bus owners and mass transport workers have been increasing fares three to four times more without consulting the passengers concerned. It is an injustice. It is illegal and the passengers are being robbed.”
He said 90% of the buses in Dhaka and Chattogram do not obey the government fare chart. The government chart fixed Tk1.80 per kilometre for long-haul buses, but those were charging Tk3 tk per km.
All over the country, including Dhaka, many vehicles’ fitness had expired, but those continued carrying passengers.
He alleged that the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) had been playing a cat and mouse game with transport owners. Sometimes, the BRTA fined some buses Tk1,000-2,000 for charging extra fares, but buses continue to illegally collect Tk4,000-5,000 from passengers.
He demanded that this be stopped, adding that the government should be passenger-friendly, not transport owner-friendly.
In the press conference, economist Professor Anu Muhammad, said, “Increasing diesel price and the subsequent undeclared transport strike was pre-planned by the government and the transport owners, because the policy makers and transport owner-leaders are both are both pro-government.
He urged the government to reshape the public transport sector as soon as possible.
Human rights activist Nur Khan Liton said, “The seating service or gate lock anarchy should be stopped. Everyone is looting together and their partner is the government.
Thirteen demands were put forward in the press conference.
Among those are: displaying BRTA fare rates on all buses, having stickers for diesel-run buses, stopping the increase in fares by transport owners without consulting the public, taking concrete action against seating-service pricing, stopping harassment of passengers by transport workers, making sure students get half-fare facility, fixing a lowest fare of Tk5 every two km for buses in Dhaka and Chattogram, taking action against transport owners for charging extra fares, and stopping the fare robbery and police harassment on public transport.
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