Dhaka traffic near normal as BNP-Jamaat hartal underway

Previously Published:The Business Standard


Dhaka traffic has appeared nearly normal this morning as public transport vehicles have increased on the city streets amid ongoing 48-hour hartal announced by BNP-Jamaat to protest the Election Commission’s announcement of the polls schedule.

Mohammad Raju, a helper of a Welcome Paribhan that operates on the Savar to Motijheel road says, “This morning 40-50 buses of our company are ready to run on the street.”

Earlier on 6 November – during the 2nd round of BNP-Jamaat announced blockade, he said that only 20 buses of the transport company were operational on the streets.

“We are still in fear. Our bus owners as well. But a lot of people’s livelihoods are dependent on this. So, for the last 3-4 days, bus owners have been letting us run the buses,” Raju says.

Meanwhile, Iqbal Karim, a banker at the Kallyanpur was seen hopping onto a Karwan Bazar-bound bus after only a few minutes of waiting in the stoppage.

“For the last few days, the buses have been normal on the street. It is for the better. This morning I didn’t have to wait for more than 5 minutes to get a bus,” says Iqbal.

In the early few phases of hartal and blockade, Iqbal had to wait for hours to get a bus to commute to his office.

“Even if there is a blockade-hartal, we have to go to the office. My transportation budget for the month has already exceeded. I had to take a CNG or Bike to punch in the office on time. There were no buses”

This is the second round of hartal called by the BNP-Jamaat and their allies — the country witnessed five rounds of blockade and two rounds of hartal since 28 October following BNP’s grand rally, which was marred by clashes.

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A total of five arson incidents were reported in the capital from 6pm on Saturday to 9am today which created fear among people.

However, there has been regular movement on the roads around Dhanmondi.

“Traffic was less than usual, but there was some congestion in major points. I had to wait for two minutes at the Dhanmondi 27 signal and another five minutes at the Banglamotor intersection,” said Tofayel Islam, sub-editor of a daily newspaper.

At the House Building of Uttara at around 9 am, various modes of transportation like buses, CNGs, motorcycles, and numerous private vehicles were seen moving without congestion in traffic.

Abdullah Noor Tuha, a private university student heading to Mohakhali, said “Traffic seems to be very normal today, there are fewer passengers, so seats are available on buses.”

“The pressure has increased somewhat yesterday and today. Buses are crowded with more people coming out on the street,” said another office-goer from Uttara heading to Farmagate via a public bus.

Compared to previous rounds of hartal-blockade, private cars, CNGs, and motorcycles have been seen more in numbers at the Bijoy Sarani signal in the capital around 10am on 19 November.

“The roads are clear from Mirpur. There are many police on the road. It makes us feel safer. Last few weeks we have been in fear of the bus being set on fire,” said Mohammad Saifullah, a commuter from Mirpur 10 heading to Motijheel via Bijoy Sarani.

To maintain law and order, a total of 235 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and 460 Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) patrol teams have been deployed across the country.

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