Students’ protest for safe roads: Commuters suffer in transport shortage
12:00 AM, August 02, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:38 AM, August 02, 2018

People suffer for lack of transport

Commuters in different parts of the capital struggled to reach their destinations yesterday as public transports were off the streets fearing retaliation from aggrieved protestors.  

As the protest reached its fourth day yesterday, students from more educational institutions joined in the road blockades and demonstrations demanding safe roads and justice for their two peers killed in Sunday's road crash.

Although a few buses were seen on the roads since morning, most modes of public transport left the roads after 10:00am when several thousand school and college students took to the streets.

Afterwards, only a few BRTC buses were seen plying the city roads.

Mizan, a Gazipur resident who came to Dhaka for his mother's treatment at BSMMU, said despite his mother's health, she had to walk a distance to avail a transport to return home.

“We have no other way,” said Mizan while crossing Shahbagh intersection during the blockade.

Meanwhile, Biman Bangladesh Airlines delayed eight flights, mostly international ones, by half an hour to around three hours as many passengers, cockpit and cabin crew could not reach the Dhaka airport on time, according to an official of the airlines.

Biman Bangladesh General Manager (Public Relations) Shakil Meraj told The Daily Star they had to suspend two hajj flights in the morning due to a shortage of pilgrims.

However, an official of the flight operations section of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport said all other international flights departed the airport on schedule and no passenger complained of failing to reach the airport on time.

Many passengers were seen waiting at the airport since 10:00am till afternoon due to the blockade. Hundreds others were seen walking towards the airport with their baggage from as far as six kilometres, witnesses said. 

Zafar Ali, who had just arrived home on a Qatar Airways flight after two years in Kuwait, was one such passenger. He left the airport at 10:00am, hired a private car and started for his home in Comilla, but got stuck at the airport roundabout.

“It is now 4:00pm and I am still sitting inside the car. I cannot leave my luggage behind and get out of the car,” Zafar said, adding his relatives could not come due to the blockade.

“I could neither have breakfast nor lunch,” he said, adding his family were worried about his situation.

Seventy-year-old Rafiqul Islam from Comilla's Daudkani came to the airport to see one of his relatives off. After reaching Kuril Bishwa Road on a CNG-auto rickshaw from Sayadabad, they had to leave their auto-rickshaw due to the blockade.   

Rafiqul, carrying a heavy luggage, had to walk for around four kilometres, along with his son, to reach the airport on time.

Schools students and office goers also faced difficulty finding a mode of transport.

Many guardians were seen walking through different city roads at Shahbagh, Mirpur, Farmgate and different other parts of the city with their children.

Though some were fortunate enough to hire transportation at higher fares than usual, many others, including women and elderly people, found no alternatives.

Humayun Kabir, along with his sexagenarian mother, started his journey from Narsingdi at 7:00am on a Dhaka-bound bus for Kakoli. However, the bus dropped them off at Gazipur around 10:30am, forcing them to walk.

They covered around 17 km in four hours on foot and reach MES Bus Stand opposite the Radisson Blu Dhaka.

Looking tired, hungry and thirsty, they were seen resting at the bus stop.  

Elsewhere, Mohammad Ainuddin came to the city from Rajbari yesterday for treatment at Birdem Hospital in Shahbagh.  After his appointment with a doctor in the morning, he started back for home but had trouble availing a bus or CNG auto-rickshaw for around two hours.

“I am suffering, of course. But the student protest is logical. Suppose, I'm standing by the road; now what if a bus runs over me?” he said.


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