People suffer as buses go off city streets

Hundreds of city dwellers suffered moving around the city as most public transports kept off Dhaka streets ahead of tomorrow’s ‘March for Democracy’ called by the BNP-led opposition alliance.

The pro-Awami League transport associations virtually halted traffic movement in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country in an effort to thwart the programme designed to halt the January 5 parliamentary election.

The office-goers and other professionals were seen waiting at different bus stoppages and along the city streets for a long time waiting for buses to go to their destinations.

It came as a blessing for CNG-run three-wheelers and rickshaws which ply in their scores on the highways, making brisk money.

Transport owners and workers told The Daily Star that they stopped their transport services to avoid any untoward incident, centering tomorrow’s programme.

Some transport owners and workers were also seen preventing transport from operating at Gabtoli Bus Terminal in the morning, reported our correspondent covering the event.

Belal Hossain, a private service holder, told The Daily Star that he was compelled to go to Gabtoli from Farmgate by rickshaw with more than double fare after waiting for bus for several hours.

A staff of Darshana Bilas Paribahan in Gabtoli Bus Terminal, seeking anonymity, told The Daily Star that they stopped their services today following the direction of bus owners’ association.

The Paribahan usually ply on Dhaka-Chuadanga, Dhaka-Jhenidah and Dhaka-Magura routes.

Meanwhile, most districts remain almost cut off from the capital as pro-Awami League transport associations stopped operating buses and launches, apparently to foil the Dhaka march since yesterday evening.

A number of bus and launch owners yesterday said they did not operate as law enforcers “advised” them to remain grounded on security concerns.

Moreover, transport associations in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna divisions called a two-day transport strike from this morning, protesting the recent vandalism and arson attacks on buses by the opposition men and demanding the arrests of the attackers.

All Dhaka-bound passenger vessels stopped operating since yesterday from Barisal, Bhola, Chandpur, Jhalakathi, Pirojpur and Patuakhali.

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday directed the opposition leaders and activists to defy any government obstructions and make the programme a success.

The BNP chairperson on Tuesday announced the Dhaka march programme, and urged the people from all walks of life to gather at Nayapaltan to press home their demand for holding the election under a nonparty government.