Goods-laden trucks stranded in fear of blockaders
Loaded trucks lie stranded near Pakshey Lalon Shah Bridge in Ishwardi upazila under Pabna district as the drivers dare not cross the area amid rampant arson, vandalism and extortion by supporters of countrywide blockade sponsored by BNP-led 18-party alliance. PHOTO: STAR
A large number of trucks, mostly loaded with vegetables, have remained stranded near Lalon Shah Bridge at Pakshey under the district in fear of vandalism or arson by supporters of the ongoing countrywide blockade sponsored by BNP-led 18-party alliance.
Unlike other times, blockaders are now attacking vegetables and raw materials laden trucks and often extorting them on this road, said Md Mojnu Miah, a truck driver.
Md Mamun Mollah, 30, started with a betel nut loaded truck from Mothbaria in Pirojpur district on Friday night to go to Saidpur in Nilphamari. But he remained stranded at Lalon Shah Bridge as of Tuesday due to continuous blockade.
“Usually it takes around 20 hours to go to Saidpur. But I am on the halfway after five days. In Faridpur district I got stuck for two days and I am staying here at Lalon Shah Bridge since Sunday night,” Mamun said.
He dare not cross Pakshey and Rooppur areas of the highway in Ishwardi upazila as blockaders vandalize vehicles and loot money and valuables even at night, if the truckers do not pay toll to them.
Blockaders looted and vandalised over 100 loaded trucks in different points from Lalon Shah bridge to Dashuria area in last couple of days, truckers said during this correspondent's visit to the bridge area on Tuesday.
A loaded truck has to cross the blockade spots of the highway after giving Tk 1500 to 2500 to the blockaders, they said.
“I started for Khulna with a truck loaded with cucumber from Ullapara upazila of Sirajganj district on Monday noon. I reached Lalon Shah Bridge at about 11:00am today after giving Tk 1800 to the blockaders at Rooppur fuel station point of the highway,” said Md Alamgir Hossain, a vegetable trader of Khulna.
"If I cannot reach the destination by night toady, major portion of the goods will be damaged," he said.
Officer in Charge of Ishwardi police station Biman Kumar said additional policemen have been deployed at different points to save the truckers on the important highway.
“When a few trucks gather at a point of the highway, police escort them to Lalon Shah Bridge. If anybody goes without the notice of police, we cannot take their responsibility," he said.
Local BNP leaders claimed that their activists blockade the highway as part of the party's countrywide continuous programme.
“Blockaders do not extort the truckers. A gang of criminals loot the trucks on the highway but the blame goes to BNP-Jamaat men,” Md Johirul Islam, office secretary of Pabna district unit of BNP.