Bus, launch fares likely to go up
News Desk || shiningbd
The government yesterday decided that only those vaccinated would be allowed to staff vehicles and vessels.
The sector has to face trouble if the decision is implemented, as the number of those who received the Covid shots is poor, say people involved in the business.
Another decision that buses and launches will have to operate at half capacity might push up the fares again. The owners have already hinted at that.
A Cabinet Division circular, issued yesterday, said the restrictions will be effective from Thursday, but it has empowered the authorities concerned to set the date from when the transport-related restrictions would come into force.
Following the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, the government yesterday issued a set of restrictions to reduce virus transmission.
The circular said buses, trains, and launches would be operated at half capacity and drivers and assistants of all types of vehicles must have Covid-19 vaccination certificates.
The government in March 2020 and April 2021 imposed restrictions on carrying passengers in buses, trains and launches. At that time, bus and launch fares were increased by 60 percent on condition that they would carry 50 percent their capacities. But the train fare remained the same.
Osman Ali, general secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers' Federation, said they have no exact data on how many transport workers have had the vaccines.
However, the number would be around 40 percent, he told The Daily Star yesterday.
Osman said they had demanded the government take steps to jab the transport workers at bus terminals on a priority basis as they have to deal with people.
But the government did not pay heed to their demands, he said, adding that if the government enforces the decision, the transport sector would face the scarcity of drivers.
Shah Alam, president of Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation, said very few of their 2 lakh workers were vaccinated. Operations of launches would be hampered if the government wanted to implement the decision, he said.
Khondaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, said it would be difficult to operate buses with 50 percent passengers without increasing bus fare by 50 to 60 percent.
Badiuzzaman Badal, senior vice president of Bangladesh Inland Waterways (passenger carrier's) Association, said, "We asked the authorities to talk to us before implementing any decisions."
The bus and launch fares were raised 28 percent and 43 percent respectively in November last year after the government increased diesel and kerosene prices by Tk 15 a litre.
Railways Ministry Secretary Humayun Kabir yesterday said they would sit today to decide when trains would run at half capacity.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority will also make decisions in this regard today, said its Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq.
Asked about poor vaccination rate of the workers, he said, "In that case, we will take special measures so that workers get vaccines on a priority basis."
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder said they would decide as per the cabinet decision.
About the workers' poor vaccination rate, he told this correspondent, "We will issue directives and it's up to the owners to follow them."
The Daily Star