Passengers, businesses suffer for waterways strike

Staff Correspondent | Published: 12:42, Jul 24,2019 | Updated: 01:25, Jul 25,2019


A family wait stranded at Sadarghat Ferry Terminal in Dhaka on Wednesday as water transport workers went on a strike protesting at hooliganism and extortion on routes. — Ali Hossain Mintu

Passengers and businesses continued to suffer as waterways workers on Wednesday suspended their 19-hour work abstention in all passenger and cargo vessels to press home their 11-point demands while owners went on a fresh strike in the afternoon of the same day.

The confusion left the passengers in the throes of great suffering while loading and unloading of goods from mother vessels to feeder vessels remained suspended at the outer anchorage of the Chattogram port and passengers’ vessels did carry any passengers from Sadarghat in Dhaka.

Meanwhile, the owners are scheduled to hold a meeting on the issue today at 11:00am.

Workers under the banner of Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation started a work abstention on Wednesday at 12:01am for a set of demands — food allowance for all waterways workers, re-fixing of technical allowances, sea allowances for workers working at Chattogram, Mongla and Payra ports’ outer parts, social security for the workers and setting up of marks, lights and buoys to ensure safe and protected navigation in waterways.

They also demanded initiatives to end intimidation, extortion and piracy on the waterways, full implementation of 2016 pay scale, adaptation of an appointment system, providing identity cards and service books to water transport workers, stopping corruption and harassment in enrolment examinations, distribution and renewal process of certificates of masters and other workers, Tk 10 lakh as compensation for the families of the workers in the incident of death at the workplace or in an accident, and providing landing passes and stopping harassment of India-bound workers.

While the owners alleged that they stopped operation of all passenger and cargo vessels protesting at the ‘illogical demands’ of the workers and before every Eid the workers made passengers and owners hostages to fulfil their unjustified demands. 

Due to the strike several thousand passengers of 43 river routes suffered acutely at different posts including Sadarghat and southern districts.

Kamal Hossain, a mason living in Keraniganj, needed to go to his house at Jorkhali of Mehendiganj in Barishal to see his ailing father Ratan Dewan, told the reporter at Sadarghat that for five hours he did not get the chance to get onboard a Barishal-bound launch.

New Age correspondent in Chattagram reported that nearly 22 ships and around 1500 lighterage vessels, barges and oil tankers have been sitting idle in the river Karnaphuli due to the strike.

New Age correspondent in Barishal reported that all ships stayed idle at Barishal port in the evening.

At 7:00pm the federation’s general secretary Chowdhury Ashiqul Alam told New Age that considering the upcoming Eid, flood and absence of state minister for labour they suspended the protest programme till August 30.

Bangladesh Inland Waterways Passenger Carrier’s Association senior Vice president M Bodiuzzaman Badal told New Age that after 2:00pm on Wednesday they stopped movement of all vessels protesting at the illogical demands of the workers.

‘We will hold a meeting on Thursday at 11:00am on this issue,’ he added.

Saidur Rahman Rintu, vice president of Barisal Launch Owners Association said owners decided not to operate their water transports following illegal pressure on them by workers, Barishal correspondent reported.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority joint director at Sadarghat Alamgir Kabir told New Age that only eight launches left Dhaka for their destinations till filing of this report at 9:30pm since 12:00am on Wednesday.

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