Country's road transport sector has been going through a sort of anarchic condition. Hundreds of people are killed and many maimed every year in road accidents, mainly due to reckless driving on highways. In most cases, the drivers involved in highway accidents flee the spots and cannot be traced later and those who are taken into police custody manage freedom either by bribing the police or exploiting the legal lacuna. Unauthorised toll collection by transport workers as well as owners has been rampant. Bloody clashes over such an illegal act have also claimed many lives. Only recently the ministry of communications has found a unique solution to the problem; it, in consultation with the parties involved in toll collection from passenger buses, has fixed a rate of unauthorised toll to be collected at the bus terminals! The booty is now being shared by trade unions, bus owners and, of course, police.
On the top of everything, what has been troubling the people most is the strike called every now and then either by transport workers or bus owners. At times, two groups do join their hands in pressing home their demands. They care a little about the sufferings caused to the travelling passengers by their strikes. The people of the south and western districts have now been subjected to such a strike jointly enforced by the workers and owners of passenger buses in support of their demand for withdrawal of the state-owned BRTC (Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation) buses from the routes of south and western districts. No busses plied at least on 100 routes during the strike that entered the fifth day Monday last, causing untold sufferings to the people. The rival organisations of transport workers and owners having affiliations with the ruling and the main opposition political parties, reportedly, have joined hands to enforce the strike. But is the strike at all justified?
The sponsors of the transport strike want the withdrawal of BRTC buses operating in the south and western districts since these buses are affecting their business interest by offering cheaper fare to the passengers. The number of BRTC buses operating in these districts being very small should not have any impact on the business of a huge fleet of privately owned buses. Moreover, why should the transport workers and owners ask any of the transport operators to stop doing business? The government has not leased out certain routes to any particular group of transport operators so that the latter can dictate its terms to others. That is why the unjustified strike has failed to get support from the cross section of people in south and western districts. In many places people have staged demonstration against the strike and also vented their anger against the government for doing nothing to bring an end to the transport strike. The sponsors of the strike have, meanwhile, declined an offer from the chairman of the BRTC to hold a discussion on the issue. Surprisingly, the ministry of communications has preferred to remain unconcerned about this unjustified and illegal transport strike in so many districts of the country. Possibly, the sponsors of the strike had earlier notified the government about their strike programme. That is what the relevant law demands. Then, why did not the ministry deal with the issue in time? Here, the ministry should have been prompt enough to take up the case since the demand of the sponsors of the strike does involve the activities one of its own entities. Sloth is one of the deadly sins and the communication ministry does commit the same very frequently.