Bangladesh Road Transport Authority said on Thursday it would hold a meeting with the stakeholders of the sector Sunday to discuss the issue. But the owners and workers stood firm on their decision to enforce the strike.
Although there has been no government order, people complained that many bus operators have already raised fares after the the new diesel and kerosene prices were announced on Wednesday in the face of spiralling global prices.
Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation and Bangladesh Truck–Covered Van Drivers Union said they would launch the strike on Friday unless the government rows back the decision to increase fuel prices.
The Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners Association had initially presented a proposal to increase fares, but later decided to go on strike.
“No vehicles will run after 6 am on Friday and this will continue indefinitely as the Owners and Workers Coordination Council announced a strike,” said Tajul Islam, vice president of the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation.
“This is a joint decision of the owners and workers,” said Talukdar Monir, president of Bangladesh Truck-Covered Van Driver Union.
“The authorities haven’t met our 10-point demand. They did increase the toll. But now they have also raised the fuel price by Tk 15 per litre. What else can we do? We have no other options,” said Tajul.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association described the rise in diesel prices as “abnormal” in a letter to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority. The association claimed the owners did not raise bus fares on long routes in the past eight years even as costs have multiplied severalfold.
“The government must revert the decision to increase fuel prices or else they should increase the fare,” said Khandokar Enayet Ullah, general secretary of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association.
BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder said they called the meeting of a committee on the readjustment of bus fares on Sunday after receiving the letter.
Representatives of the owners, workers and the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection will also attend the meeting.
Nur said they talked to the owners, who have not announced any programme centrally.
“There are some misunderstandings. Decisions to halt bus services were announced at some places. But the central leaders said they will continue bus operation.”
Enayet Ullah, however, said the central federation agreed with the decisions taken by the transport associations in all the districts. “The owners in the districts said they will not continue operation.
“Their statement appeared logical to us. We will have to subsidise the services instead of income if we continue operation now.”