Businesses lose steam
The ongoing student demonstration and transport strike have affected business activities, including export and import, across the country.
“We have been facing difficulty in doing overseas trade for the last eight days owing to the ongoing stalemate,” said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, at a press conference at its office in the capital.
The country's apex trade body called the media event in the face of continuous protests and demonstrations by students demanding road safety following death of two of their mates in the city a week ago.
The protesters have been checking the licences of drivers and vehicles, which has created traffic gridlock in the city.
At the same time, some buses were vandalised, prompting transport operators and workers to stop operating their vehicles and in the process, have brought the movement of people and goods across the country into a standstill.
Yesterday, the activities at the Chittagong Port were badly hampered in the wake of sudden transport strike.
Loading, unloading and delivery operations suffered in the absence of truck and other carriers to transport the exportable and imported products, reports our correspondent Dwaipayan Barua from Chittagong.
Containers for export could not be sent from the 17 private inland container depots (ICDs) to the port. As a result, 330 twenty-foot equivalent units of export containers missed their scheduled shipment yesterday.
Unloading of goods, including cement clinker and scrap steel, was totally suspended from three anchored vessels though the dock workers had reported for duty in the morning, said port officials and other stakeholders.
“We are ready to serve but the services are hampered due to the transport crisis,” said Golam Sarwar, traffic director of the Chittagong Port Authority.
More than 4,000 trucks, covered vans and container carriers usually enter the port everyday to transport goods to and from the port that handles more than 90 percent of the country's total seaborne trade.
The FBCCI said the transport strike would have an adverse impact on the country's image and affect the investment potential.
Inflation is likely to go up further due to the supply chain disruption, warned the trade body.
“The unstable situation prevailing in the country has also drastically affected the small entrepreneurs,” Mohiuddin said.
The protestors must also consider if the owners would be able to pay the wages and bonuses of workers before Eid-ul-Azha if the demonstrations continue this way.
Subsequently, he urged the students and workers to refrain from demonstrations and strikes for the sake of the country.
“We have given our moral support to the students' demand for safe road from the beginning of the movement. But the FBCCI does not support the vandalism of buses and other vehicles,” he said, adding that the government had already taken a number of measures to ensure road safety.
Export and remittance have recently rebounded, while local and foreign investors are also showing interest to invest here.
“The ongoing situation will hit the country's reputation badly.”
Asked if the FBCCI raised a demand of resignation of Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan to resolve the stalled situation immediately, Mohiuddin said the minister had already sought apology from the victims' families.
“It is not dependant on the resignation of just one person. The demonstrators yesterday raised the demand of Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader's resignation. Tomorrow, they may seek the resignation of prime minister.”