An artificial crisis of buses was created in Dhaka city area following a crackdown against buses offering ‘seating’ services to passengers for high fares from Sunday.
Transporters, who were told to stop seated passengers-only services, instead created the artificial crisis though transport authorities threatened to take away their route permits.
Transport companies will lose their route permits if they do not operate buses, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority Chairman Md Moshiar Rahman said on Monday, reports bdnews24.com.
“They were given route permits for providing services to the people. We will take measures against the companies who are intentionally causing this crisis. We will take away their permits,” he said.
The crisis started on Sunday and continued into the second day. There are also complaints of buses charging extra even without special services.
The government started a crackdown on buses for offering so-called ‘seating’ services to passengers for high fares, leaving out standing passengers.
Earlier this month, the Dhaka Bus Owners Association said the services would be stopped by April 15. The BRTA then began a drive against the buses on Sunday.
Brawls were reported on many buses as commuters accused transport workers of charging them extra fares. People were seen stranded with fewer buses plying the routes.
Women in particular were the prime sufferers because the competition to get on the buses that required shoving and pushing was now worse.
“I cannot get on any of these buses. The men pushed their way into the few ones that came by. So we could not keep up,” said Malati Rani Das, after an hour of waiting at Mirpur’s Kalshi.
Anisur Rahman, a shop worker at Jamuna Future Park, welcomed the change. He paid Tk 18 in 'local fare', instead of Tk 25, which he said was the ‘special fare’ for his bus ride from Mirpur’s Purobi Cinema Hall.
But arguments between passengers and transport workers have been reported from various spots.
Russell Miah, who drives a Galaxy bus, said that his assistant or ‘helper’ ran away during an argument with passengers when the vehicle reached Kalshi.
“The fare between Kakoli and Mirpur-11 is Tk 18. But some are paying Tk 10, the others Tk 15. They beat my helper, so he ran away!
“How am I supposed to drive this bus full of passengers without him?”
A traffic sergeant then intervened, bringing with him a chart of government-fixed fares, and the bus was able to resume its journey.
Bus driver Akbar Ali cut his route short and would not go beyond Kuril. He complained about passengers who became violent and refused to pay full fares.
“The fare for the travel from Mirpur to Kuril was Tk 25. The chart says Tk 22. But passengers won’t pay that. Should I then pay the extra sum when my superviser looks at the bills?”
Drivers are refusing to drive vehicles because of scuffles with passengers, said Bosumoti Paribahan Director Khandaker Monir Ahmed, to explain why there were fewer buses.
“Many drivers have not got out because of yesterday’s fights. There were more fights in the morning. Some owners have pulled their buses because of these low fares.”
“After much explaining, we managed to get some of our workers to continue working. We told passengers to follow the chart. Not more, not less.”
Of the 65 buses owned by Tetulia Paribahan, 40 were running the route between Mohammadpur and Abdullahpur, said the company’s director Abdul Wadud.
Prajapati Paribahan pulled 20 of its 70 vehicles, said managing director KM Rafikul Islam.
Paristhan Paribahan was only running 17 of its 31 buses, managing director Md Waz Uddin told bdnews24.com. On Monday morning, three more were pulled because of fights with passengers.
There were 2,281 buses and 3,126 minibuses plying different routes in Dhaka and its outskirts, according to the BRTA.