Sunday, March 11, 2012

Capital cut from rest of the country

The road and river communications between Dhaka and other parts of the country virtually cut off since Sunday morning as the buses were kept off roads and launches were barred to anchor at the terminal ahead of the March 12 rally in the capital. 

Visiting Gabtoli Bus Terminal, our reporter found that thousands of people were waiting there since the morning as the transport union leaders forced the bus owners to keep the vehicles off the road. 

Meanwhile, most of the long-distance buses were seen parked inside Sayedabad bus terminal in the morning.

Making stopover at different city bus stoppages, our correspondents report that almost all of the bus companies kept their vehicles off the road for 'fear of anarchy' as well as safety concerns. 

Due to take off buses in the city, the traffic movements almost remain one of hartal days.

On both sides of the streets in the city, thousands of people were seen waiting for public transports. 


The transport union leaders were seen beating some bus drivers at Gabtoli bus terminal when they were trying to operate some inter-district buses.

They also vandalised two long-route buses around 8:30am at the bus terminal, bringing a total halt to the transport movement.

After that, no long-distance buses were seen leaving or entering the terminal.

The union leaders were also seen to force commuters to vacate several long-route buses at the terminal.

Motaleb, an elderly person, who came to Dhaka from Sylhet with his wife and three sons Saturday night, was seen waiting at Gabtoli Bus Terminal for buses for Pabna. 

"I have an urgent work to do in Pabna. Now, I don't know what I will do," saying this he sat on road in his utter despair. 

Talking to another young lady whose name was not available, our correspondent reports, the lady first went to Sadarghat Launch Terminal for a launch ticket for Barisal. 

As she failed to get one, she rushed to the bus terminal and was waiting when this report was filed around 10:00am. 


Sharif Miah, an office staff of Hanif Paribahan at Kalyanpur branch, told our correspondent that a single bus of their company has not left or entered the city this morning.

Hafiz, manager of Shyamoli Paribahan at Kalyanpur branch, also echoed Sharif.
The lone bus that left the terminal in the morning is for Kolkata, Hafiz said.


After visiting Sadarghat Launch Terminal our correspondent reported that Awami League-backed workers obstructed some launches to anchor at the terminal. 

At around 6:00am, when three launches -- Kalam Khan-1, Sundarban-8 and Parabat -- reached the launch terminal carrying the people from Barisal, Bhola, Bagerhat, Patuakhali and other southern districts, the ghat workers barred those to anchor.

Seeking anonymity owner of a launch said, “The Awami League-backed workers are obstructing the launches to anchor at the launch terminal.”

Passengers of the three launches however managed to get down by boats. 

Another correspondent adds that the ghat labourers also pelted brickbats on the passengers who tried to get off the launch.

The workers also chased the three launches with boats and trawlers when those headed towards Shyambazar and Postogola to offload passengers.


Our reporter, who is covering the transport situation of Dhaka-Chittagong highway, found most of the buses parked inside Sayedabad bus terminal in the morning. 

Luckily, he got a bus for Comilla around 6:30am. On his way back to Dhaka, he went to Shashangachha bus stand in Comilla town around 8:30am and found around 100 Dhaka-bound passengers were waiting there for transport. 

In their despair bid to go to the capital, some of the commuters hired microbuses and private cars while others were seen to return home. 

Jahangir Alam, a resident of Comilla and an engineer of the Local Government and Engineering Department (LGED), returned to his house fearing chaos after waiting at the bus stand for an hour. He was on the way to his Narayanganj office via Dhaka. 

“Life is more valuable than attending office in such a situation. I would rather take a two-day leave,” Jahangir Alam said. 

"Neither Awami League nor BNP is affected by such types of activities while only the general people become the worst sufferer, he added.

One Momena Begum of Comilla and her son managed to get up a Dhaka-bound bus at the bus stand but soon they got down from the bus apprehending violence ahead of the March 12 rally of the opposition.

Another Dhaka-bound passenger Hamidur Rahman, who was waiting at Comilla Cantonment Bus Stand, said it seems that the government has called a transport strike.

Meanwhile, a conductor of Asia Line which operates on Dhaka-Comilla route told our reporter that they will halt operation for Sunday and Monday fearing vandalism. 

Md Uzzal, a Teletalk employee who was waiting at Chandina bus stand, told the reporter that he went to Comilla from Dhaka on Saturday on a official tour and boarded at a hotel at Comilla Biswa road.


Visiting Manikganj our reporter added that the launch owners have been asked by local administration to halt the launch services till the evening of March 12. 

Several launch drivers seeking anonymity told The Daily Star that the local administration asked them to keep all the vessels anchored at Paturia and Aricha ghats so that no one could come from Daulatdia and Kazirhaat crossing the Padma river.

People however were seen to cross the river by ferry or taking alternative way. 

Our Manikganj correspondent adds: The road and river communications between Dhaka and Manikganj were also disrupted.

The launch services on Paturia-Daulatdia route remained suspended since Saturday afternoon.
Paturia-Daulatdia route is the key route of communications between the capital and southwestern districts of the country.

The Ro-Ro (roll-on/roll-off) ferries were only seen to carry good-laden trucks. Only three buses were seen to cross the river till the report was filed at 11:45am Sunday.

Hundreds of people who had gone their village home during the two day weekend, could not return to their working place in Dhaka as no long-route buses were plying on the Dhaka-Manikganj highway. 

Meanwhile, security was beefed up in Manikganj ahead of the March 12 mass rally of BNP.

Md Nurul Islam, inspector of Manikganj traffic police, told The Daily Star that several additional police check posts were set up in the town fearing anarchy ahead of the opposition rally.