Ctg commuters suffer during transport workers’ unannounced strike
Commuters suffered as a section of transport workers in Chattogram city went for strike today without any prior announcement.
The workers' leaders said they "were compelled" to go for strike, protesting "harassment by police".
As public transport only sporadically operated in small numbers on different routes in the port city, people, especially office-goers and students, had to suffer the consequences.
Shahidullah Chowdhury, a private job holder, was seen waiting for bus at Muradpur area this morning for going to office.
"I did not know about the transport strike. I have been waiting at the bus stop for an hour to go to office," he said, adding, "People are saying that transport workers are on strike but there was no prior announcement. Now we, the commuters, have to suffer. It's absolutely unacceptable."
"I don't understand why the workers would suddenly go on strike without announcement. How will I reach work on time?" -- said a frustrated Sajal Mitra, who works at a hardware shop in the city's Jubilee Road area. He was seen waiting for transport at Oxygen intersection.
Tasnuva Binte Masud, a 10th grader, was waiting for transport at Bahaddarhat intersection like many other commuters. She was already late for school.
"I have been waiting here for half an hour. I tried to get a rickshaw but most of those were already occupied while other rickshaw-pullers are demanding three to four times higher fare," she said.
This correspondent reached out to a number of transport workers to know what actually happened that triggered the workers to go on strike all of a sudden.
Preferring anonymity, many transport workers said they had "no involvement" with the strike, adding that a section of their leaders "compelled" them to comply to their decision.
The strike came after police yesterday arrested a lineman who was collecting money from public vehicles at Kattali area in favour of workers' leaders, said a worker preferring anonymity.
"A section of leaders appointed linemen on different routes to collect money from every public vehicle plying on the route in the name of route expenditure," he said.
"We cannot protest. When police go for legal action against them, they compel us to go on strike in a bid to put pressure on police and administration," he added.
Contacted, Ali Ahmed, general secretary of Chattogram unit of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, said police were harassing the transport workers on different routes without any valid reason.
"Police arrested five transport workers from different areas yesterday and filed case over extortion against them," he said, adding, "Workers went on strike in protest."
Asked about allegation of forcing workers to go on strike, he denied it.
"Workers have gone on strike spontaneously," he said.
Contacted, Ali Hossain, deputy commissioner of Chattogram Metropolitan Police-Traffic (north), said that he did not know anything about the transport workers' strike.
Asked about the arrest of five transport workers, the police official said the arrestees were not workers, rather they were appointed by a section of transport leaders to extort money from public vehicles.
"We would not allow this illegal activity on roads. We are looking into it," he added.
Talking to The Daily Star, Manjurul Alam Manju, president of Chattogram District Road Transport Owners Association, said transport owners had no connection to the strike.
"The workers went on strike without any valid reason. We do not support it," he said, adding, "If police take legal action against extortionists, the workers at large should be happy about it. Actually, a section of workers' leaders enforced the strike and workers had to comply with their decision."
"I would like to urge them to call off the strike for the sake of commuters," he added.