Dhaka students resume protests pushing for road safety

Students pushing for a nine-point list of demands to ensure road safety have blocked the roads in two neighbourhoods in Dhaka

Traffic came to a standstill on Mirpur Road as protesters blocked the Dhanmondi Road 27 intersection at around 12.30 pm on Sunday.

The protesters include students from Birshrestha Munshi Abdur Rouf Public College, Birshrestha Nur Mohammad Public College, Lalmatia Girls College, Ideal College and Mohammadpur Govt College.

They chanted slogans pushing for their 9-point demands, said Utpal Barua, chief of Sher-E-Bangla Nagar Police Station.

Some of the protesters were seen checking driver’s licenses on the streets.

Students from Willes Little Flower School and College, Habibullah Bahar College and Viqarunnissa Noon School and College blocked the Shantinagar intersection after 1 pm.

They marched from Shantinagar to Kakrail around 1.15 pm, bringing traffic to a halt. Later, the protesters held a demonstration at the Kakrail intersection.

Mashiur Rahman, division head of Willes Little Flower School and College, calmed the students and sent them home at around 2:15 pm.

The regular flow of traffic resumed in the Kakrail area after the students left the streets.

The students protests on the first day of the work week has created severe traffic congestion in the surrounding areas, said police.

Following a 23 percent increase in diesel prices, the government increased bus fares by 27 percent under pressure from transport owners. Since then, students have been protesting for a half-price discount on bus fare.

The death of Nayeem, a Notre Dame student who was involved in an accident with a Dhaka South City Corporation bus on Wednesday, added a new dimension to the protests.

The demonstrations paralysed traffic in Dhaka on Thursday and ended with the protesters vowing to return to the streets. They took a break on Friday and took the streets again on Saturday at Dhanmondi Road 27 and presented a nine-point list of demands to ensure road safety. They threatened more demonstrations if these demands were not met by authorities by Nov 30.

If an official notice to that fact is not issued by then, students plan to surround BRTA headquarters.

Protests and demonstrations will continue in the days leading up to the deadline, they said.

In 2018, students launched an unprecedented movement over road safety and presented a nine-point demand to the government, who promised to implement the changes but never acted upon them, a protester said.

If their demands are not met this time around, fresh demonstrations will be announced, he added.