Describing the government’s decision to hike bus fares as ‘inhuman’, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday said the move has been taken only to protect the transport owners’ interests, even if that means inflicting suffering on ordinary people.
Speaking at a press conference at BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office on Monday, Fakhrul also said the government could have taken more time to lift the lockdown as the resumption of offices, business and public transport would put the nation in grave danger.
“Raising the bus fares is a completely inhuman act when people are struggling to cope with the current situation. Usually the low-income people use the buses, but the government imposed a burden on them by hiking the fare,” the BNP leader said.
He further said, “The bus fares have been increased in the interests of owners, giving them incentive. This move has also been taken for plundering public money.”
Earlier on Sunday, the government reset the fares of long-haul buses and minibuses across the country, hiking those by 60 percent in order to compensate the owners for carrying 50 percent less passengers to contain the transmission of coronavirus.
It said the new bus fares will be applicable during the coronavirus crisis period and the existing ones would be reinstated once the nation overcomes the crisis.
The bus services resumed in the country from today (Monday) after over two months of suspension due to the coronavirus shutdown.
Fakhrul said people are overcrowding in trains and fighting to get into buses as the government restored the transport services. “It’s not possible to control the gathering in public transports in Bangladesh since the offices are reopened. The same condition is also prevailing in launches.”
He noted that although the health experts warned that a dangerous situation would be created if the lockdown is lifted, the government did not pay heed to it.
“Even the Prime Minister’s personal physician Professor M Abdullah warned that the transmission of the virus will increase sharply if the lockdown is withdrawn now,” Fakhrul said.
“We think the government has failed to tackle the coronavirus situation. We also think the government could have taken more time to withdraw the lockdown. As the government has no responsibility to people, it is pushing them towards great danger with its imprudent decision,’ he observed.
Fakhrul criticised the government for still not giving approval to the coronavirus testing kit developed by Gonoshasthaya Kendra. “We’ve seen media reports on the corruption and trade over the coronavirus kits.”
He also urged the government to take steps to protect the farmers and give them incentives as they have been hit hard by the coronavirus.