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Dhaka bus owners accept 50% student discount on bus fare

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2021-11-30 12:23:17 BdST


Bus owners have accepted the demand of student protesters for a 50 percent discount on bus fare for students in the Dhaka Metropolitan Area.

However, the discounted fare, to be implemented from Wednesday, will only be applied between 7 am and 8 pm.

The discount will not apply on government holidays, weekends, and other days when educational institutions are closed.

To receive the discount, students will have to show photo identification from their educational institutions.

The announcement was made at a press conference by Khandker Enayet Ullah of the Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association on Tuesday.

“This decision is only for the Dhaka Metropolitan Area,” he said. “It is not applicable outside the city. The announcement has been made on behalf of the Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association.”

Under pressure from transport owners, the government raised bus fares by 27 percent in response to a 23 percent increase in diesel fuel. Students then took to the streets to demand a 50 percent discount for buses.

The death of Notre Dame College student Nayeem Hasan, who was killed in an accident with a city corporation garbage truck on Nov 24, added further fuel to the protests.

On Nov 26, Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader announced that the BRTC-run buses would have a 50 percent discount for students who showed their school IDs between 7 am and 8 pm. The discount would not be applicable on days schools were closed.

The BRTA met with private bus owners twice, on Nov 25 and Nov 27, to try to institute the same discount, but the meetings ended without a decision on the issue.

Instead, bus owners demanded a subsidy during the Nov 27 meeting. Transport owner leader Khandaker Enayet Ullah had claimed at the time that ‘80 percent’ of bus owners who operated in Dhaka city were ‘poor’.

Meanwhile, students continued their protests and announced they would surround the BRTA offices on Tuesday if their demands were not met.

Then on Monday, Md Mainuddin, an SSC candidate from Ekramunnesa School, was run over by a bus operated by Green Anabil Paribahan on DIT Road. The bus was allegedly racing another.

His death further ignited tensions, with an angry mob setting fire to at least eight buses and vandalising several others.

“We have met several times over the past few days to discuss the demands students have been making for such a long time,” Enayet Ullah said. “We are saddened by the Rampura accident where a student lost his life and we send our condolences to the family. We also call for the punishment of those involved after an investigation.”

“We have decided to give a 50 percent discount from Dec 1 in support of the students’ demands. I call upon transport owners and workers to take the necessary steps to ensure that students can avail themselves of the 50 percent discount.”

Asked why the decision was only limited to Dhaka city and whether owners in other cities were waiting for protests before giving in to demands, Enayet Ullah said the decision was made by the Dhaka Transport Owners Association alone.

“I urge students to put their efforts towards their studies. Instead of taking to the streets in protest, they should return to their schools, colleges and universities.”

Asked why bus owners had backpedalled only a few days after they deferred a decision on the discount and called for government subsidies, Enayet Ullah said: “The bus owners in Dhaka city are poor. Eighty percent of them are poor owners. No one believes this, but that is the reality. Many owners have only one vehicle and they have to use it to feed their families and pay for their children’s education. They have to pay off their bank loans. Forty percent of them were drivers before they became owners. I hope the government will give the matter due consideration.”