Bus drivers go on strike in 10 districts over new transport law

  • District Correspondents, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-11-18 14:07:48 BdST

Bus drivers and their assistants have gone on strike in parts of the country to protest harsher punishments for traffic offences under the new transport law.

In 10 districts in the southwestern region of the country, the transport workers have ‘willingly’ stopped running the buses, Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association General Secretary Mortaza Hossain said on Monday.

The districts are: Jashore, Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Magura, Narail, Jhenaidah, Meherpur, Kushtia and Chuadanga.

The new law branded the drivers as killers in cases of road accidents, whereas in reality, the transport workers never kill anyone intentionally, said Mortaza.

The new law is quite similar to the law meant for criminals, he alleged.

“The drivers and their assistants have objected to many sections of the law. They stopped operating the buses on Sunday afternoon as the government took no steps to settle the issue.”

The government introduced the new law in 2018 following an unprecedented movement by students for safer roads, after two students were killed in separate bus accidents in Dhaka. The new law has a provision for a five-year jail term and fine as punitive measures for deaths in road crashes.

The law passed in 2018 was published as a gazette on Nov 1 this year. But the transport owners and workers associations have been protesting against the law since it was drafted. On the other hand, the government implemented the law two weeks later as it lacked clarity.

The transport workers called for an amendment to the Road Transport Act 2018 during the rally in Jashore on Nov 14, said Harun Or Rashid, general secretary of Jashore District Transport Workers Union.

No buses operated on domestic routes, including Jashore-Benapole and Jashore-Satkhira, but smaller vehicles, including cars and microbuses, were in service.

Long-haul buses operated on the routes to Benapole and Chattogram and other parts of the country, said MR Rahman, manager at Benapole office of Eagle Paribahan.