Bus services resume

Fare increases by 60 percent

Amdadul Haque

Bus services resumed from Monday morning on conditions of following hygiene rules, after being suspended for 67 days to slow the transmission of Covid-19 in the country.

Besides, train and launch services have also resumed on a limited scale across the country since Sunday.
The government allowed transports to resume at a time when the country is facing its worst bout of the deadly coronavirus. 

The government has taken such a decision to resume operations in pursuit of life and livelihood amid the pandemic.
Public transport has also started operating in the capital after the ministry issued a notification to increase fares by 60 percent.

One of the conditions under which the rent fare has been increased by 60 percent is the adherence to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health. But most of the transports operating in the capital were not following the instructions.

However, the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) suggested providing the public transport sector with incentives or subsidies so that the owners can avoid losses. Apart from this, there can be an arrangement for bank-loans at low interest for the transport owners, it added.

Mentioning the lower fuel price in the world market, CAB said there will be no need to hike the bus fare if the fuel price in the local market is adjusted to that of the world market. The association also thanked the authorities concerned for their decision of not raising fare on rail and river routes.

However, it was learnt that in long distance transports leaving the capital, passengers were being seated on one seat while the other was being left empty. Passengers were being picked up in the same way from outside Dhaka.

On Monday morning from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm in the capital's Kalyanpur, Shyamoli and College Gate areas, it was seen that passengers were being picked up and dropped off everywhere. Most transports did not have hand sanitizer or disinfectant spray. The helper or the conductor was dragging the passengers onto and off the bus in the same old habit.

It was seen in the areas of Savar, Ashulia, Gazipur, Manikganj, Mirpur, Uttara, Tongi and Abdullahpur, buses were running on different routes.

Most of the transports had fewer passengers. The rule of seating one passenger in one of two seats inside a bus was also not followed. The main doors of most transports were unlocked.

Most buses were seen waiting everywhere to pick up passengers. No rules were being followed in picking up and dropping off passengers.

In the old habit, the helpers were seen coaxing passengers to move on their desired routes. Hygiene rules were not being followed in picking up and dropping off passengers on the bus. Hand sanitizers or disinfectant sprays were not seen on most transports.

Arif, a helper on a Bhuiyan Paribahan bus plying from Mohammadpur to Abdullahpur, said the bus had hand sanitizers, which were being applied if passengers wanted them.

Disinfectant spray was not seen in the Trans Silva buses. The same was true of Alif Transport.
However, another bus helper Sohag said passengers were sitting inside the bus as per the rules. But there was no good answer about picking up and dropping off passengers.

A passenger of Bhuiyan Paribahan named Khalilur Rahman said, I got a bus after waiting for a long time. Although I tried hard to obey the rules, I could not, because I was in a hurry and the bus was moving.

Rakes Ghosh, managing director of Shyamoli NR Paribahan, told Bangladesh Post about the long-distance bus service, "We are operating the bus in compliance with the instructions given to us by the government."

“A few buses have left the capital since the morning to different destinations in compliance with the health rules. We are trying our best to follow the hygiene rules. In that case, I request the passengers to follow the hygiene rules,” he added.

Asked about the extra fare, he said, “we have to carry half the passengers, in that case we have to face loss. So we are charging according to what the government has increased, 60 percent by adjusting the fare. At the same time bus drivers, helpers and supervisors have been provided with all types of healthcare materials to comply with the hygiene rules.”

Samdani Khandakar, office secretary of the Dhaka Road Transport Owners' Association, said they also resumed bus services in Dhaka and adjacent areas by "maintaining all health safety guidelines issued by the government."

Zahidul Islam, assistant police commissioner of Darus Salam Zone, said "Police have been deployed in different points of Dhaka city. Social distancing is not being maintained in some intercity buses. Those, who do not follow the rules, are being sued. But I cannot tell you how many cases have been filed right now, as we get the information in the afternoon or at night."

Meanwhile, a writ has been filed before the High Court challenging the validity of the notification issued by increasing the fare by 60 percent in public transport. Supreme Court lawyer Humayun Kabir Pallab filed the writ petition before the concerned bench on Monday.

After the writ petition, the lawyer told the media that the hearing of the writ petition will be held in a virtual bench headed by High Court Justice JBM Hasan.

Lawyer Humayun Kabir Pallab said that lower and middle class people and those who do not have a private car among the common people of the country use public transport. In this situation, fare increase by 60 percent bears no reason.