Transport workers suffer without aid as Eid nears

Shahin Akhter | Published: 00:47, May 23,2020


Road transport workers across the country are passing days in hardship and uncertainty ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr as they remained unemployed for around two months during the protracted shutdown aimed at checking spread of coronavirus.

They staged demonstrations at different places in the country demanding aid as they alleged that they got help neither from the government nor their union leaders even before the Eid, one of the biggest religious festivals of the Muslims to be celebrated next week.

State minister for disaster management and relief Enamur Rahman said, ‘We’ve got order from the prime minister Sheikh Hasina to distribute relief to the road transport workers.’

He said that listing of these workers was going on while they had already distributed relief to some of them.

Leaders of the transport workers’ unions alleged that the workers did not get any relief from the authorities so far while the unions were helping workers as per their capacity.

‘The promise of relief from government only stays in paper,’ alleged transport workers federation general secretary Osman Ali.

Earlier from March 26 the government imposed ban on all public transports on roads to contain the COVID-19 infection.

Since April to this month the workers staged demonstrations and blocked roads at Tangail, Narayanganj, Panchagarh, Savar and Gabtoli and Saidabad in Dhaka demanding relief.

On Tuesday they blocked road at Kalyanpur bus stand area in the morning demanding relief.

They also, from their demonstrations at different places, questioned leaders about the huge money collected from them in the name of welfare fund as the unions collect Tk 10 from all workers daily.

The road transport workers, without exception, are registered under 231 countrywide unions which in turn are registered under the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, the apex organisation of the road transport workers.

Osman Ali claimed that from unions they were trying to distribute relief to the workers as per their capacity and so far they had listed about 20 lakh workers for relief from the authorities.

‘After Eid if the workers start protest we don’t know how to calm them,’ he added.

Shajahan Khan, former shipping minister and acting president of the federation, told New Age on April 29 that it should be checked whether there was any instigation behind the agitation of the workers.

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