BUS operators have not run their vehicles on long-distance routes at daytime for the second consecutive day on Friday on ‘security grounds’ and in protest at the ‘vandalism of vehicles’ that they allege to have taken place while school and college students have taken to the streets for the sixth consecutive day on Friday demanding justice as a bus ran over two of their fellows in Dhaka on Sunday, seeking road safety for all and hoeing the row in the road transport sector that has already been hard enough. Buses from outlying districts did not reach Dhaka and no buses left Dhaka for outlying destinations. Road transport workers gathered, as New Age reported on Saturday, at exit points, both in Dhaka and outlying districts, and stopped buses from leaving. The shipping minister, Shajahan Khan, who is also executive president of the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation in a conflict of interest with his ministerial mandate, is reported to have given safety issue as an excuse for operators not running their vehicles although buses ran at night. What is unlawful about the decision of transport owners and workers is that they cannot go on a strike without making any announcement on this beforehand. This makes their standing illegal.
But what the situation as a whole betray appears to be an intent of malfeasance. The students have stood up against the chaos and corruption on the transport sector, disciplining vehicular traffic of all sorts, checking fitness certificates and licences of vehicles and driving licences and creating awareness of traffic rules and regulations. The transport owners and workers view this, as the shipping minister has also echoed, as a security threat. This can be construed to purport that they want to run their vehicles without fitness certificates, without driver’s licences, without caring for traffic rules and regulations and without the fear of the law, cloaked in impunity of a kind that has degraded the road transport sector to such a low that students had to take to the streets to do the job that the Road Transport Authority and the traffic police personnel are meant to do. What is distasteful about this is that without righting the wrongs, which have so far happened, and without being respectful of the law in the sector, which has so far been more honoured in the breach, the owners and workers of road transports are trying to pawn off their to-do-whatever-they-like attitude, which is in no way acceptable, by putting people in trouble. It is ordinary people who are at risk of being hit, run over and killed because of reckless, underage and unlicensed driving; the drivers of public transports have so far only ruled the roads and overruled the law.
Transport owners and workers seeking impunity to do whatever they wish and to run their vehicle however they like, by way of going on unlawful strike and causing sufferings to people, are absolutely unacceptable. Whatever they have so far done on the roads brings to the fore the government’s failure to make them behave. It must change.
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