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Opposition's blockade badly hits businesses in city, ports
Jasim Uddin Haroon

          Businesses in the capital, port city and other places in the country were badly affected Sunday by an opposition-led countrywide rail, road and waterway blockade programme.
Transactions in banks and other financial institutions were poor on the day while the movement of export-import cargoes to, and from, Dhaka remained suspended due to the programme.
Transactions on the country's bourses were also thin as the opposition action disrupted movement of vehicular traffic in capital Dhaka and Chittagong port city.
Besides, presence of employees at different industrial belts was thin and most of the Dhaka city's shopping malls were closed on the day. Long distance transport services did not operate.
Awami League (AL) led 14-party opposition coalition organised the agitation programme to realise their demands for electoral reforms, resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the two other election commissioners.
Expressing deep concern over the ongoing confrontational politics, President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Mir Nasir Hossain Sunday said he would like to meet Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to discuss the country's volatile political situation.
"I'll discuss the matter with my colleagues Monday (today) as the situation caused by the violent politics in the country is worsening day by day. We'll seek permission from the Prime Minister to meet her after our meeting," president of the country's apex body said.
President of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) MA Momen said such confrontational politics is affecting the businesses badly.
He also said such destructive politics has sent a further blow to the country's business sector, which is already reeling from industrial unrest in Dhaka and its outskirts, fuel-price hike and appreciation of US dollar against the Bangladesh currency.
"I think dialogues between the two major political parties could resolve the issues that are fuelling violent opposition protests," he added.
President of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) Saifuzzaman Chowdhury Sunday said the business relating to port activities is hampering by such programme.
President of Dhaka Mahanagar Dokan Malik Samilty Md Helal Uddin said both the ruling and the opposition parties should shun the path of confrontational politics and urged the major parties to resolve the crisis amicably.
"We always get the first blow when there is such an opposition programme. The wrath of the angry demonstrators comes crushing on us. Pickets attack our shops and break window glasses," he added.
He said they would convene a meeting soon to discuss on how to create pressure on both the opposition and the ruling parties to end the confrontational politics.
"I think the issues could be resolved through dialogues. I don't understand why both the parties are wasting time on lame excuses," he added.
Former president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Kutub Uddin Ahmed said the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, which experienced an industrial unrest recently, is the worst victim of such a programme.
He said RMG products suffer greatly as the covered vans, trucks and trailers do not ply on the street during such programmes.
"I think both the general secretary of the AL and the secretary general of the BNP should sit first for a dialogue", Kutub Uddin Ahmed said.
He claimed that at least 30 per cent garment employees of Savar and other nearby areas remained absent in their work places during the hartal or any other political programme.
In the meantime, the blockade programme has partially paralysed the port activities in Chittagong.
But Director of Traffic Department at the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) Ahsanul Kabir said the blockade programme is not affecting their routine work as the loading and unloading of cargoes were going on full swing.
"The loaded trucks and trailors, which remained off the road, will move in the afternoon when the programme will over," he added.
Sources at the Dhaka Inland Container Depot (DICD) said their work suffered a setback due to the programme as the inland delivery remained suspended during day time Sunday.
"I hope that after the end of the programme, the inland delivery will begin. But the volume will be much lower than that of the normal working days," Mohammad Mobarak, deputy terminal manager at the DICD said.
Sources at the DICD also said one train loaded with 35 boxes of import cargoes was delayed by at least four hours due to the rail blockade.


A procession led by Zahid Ahsan Russell MP of Gazipur-2 constituency obstructed a train at Tongi rail station at 9.45 am and held a rally on the rail line during the 14-party-combine-sponsored blockade programme Sunday. Pickets set a police van on fire in the city's Lalbagh area (inset). FE photos by Masud Pervez Milon
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