Launch owners told to follow health safety rules, fare to remain unchanged

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-05-30 00:29:47 BdST

bdnews24
The metal decks at the Sadarghat launch terminal begins to catch rush in the absence of passengers over the last one and a half months during the nationwide lockdown over a coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

Launch owners have been told to resume services throughout Bangladesh from Sunday enforcing social distancing measures between the passengers and following health safety guidance amid the coronavirus outbreak.

But passenger fares will remain unchanged, Golam Sadek, the chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority or BIWTA, said after a meeting with the launch owners on Friday. 

The government has decided to lift the ban on public transit system, allowing operators to carry a limited number of passengers from May 31, the day offices will reopen on a limited scale.

Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, the state minister for shipping, had said previously in a video message that the authorities were looking forward to resume launch services reducing the number of passengers by almost half.

“We have discussed how we can resume services maintaining the health safety guidelines. No decision has been made on passenger fare,” Sadek said.

“After resuming the services will sit with the owners again if the health safety measures set out by the government lead to a reduced number of passengers. But we have to consider the difficulties of passengers as well.”

“Only a third of our earnings will be secured if we transport passengers following the social distancing rules. It will not even cover our fuel costs. We can’t continue services if we face such losses every day,” Mahbub Uddin Ahmed, the chairman of Owners' Association, said after attending the meeting.

The association has asked the BIWTA chairman and authorities to consider increasing the fare if the number of passengers drops due to the directives designed to curb the coronavirus spread, Ahmed said.

“The owners will resume services from Sunday. They are not allowed to increase fare and have been told to carry passengers in line with hygiene rules,” BIWTA spokesperson Mobarak Hossain Majumder told bdnews24.com.

“The decision to increase fare will be considered after watching the situation in the first 10 days after reopening,” he added.