As long-distance bus services halted in protest against the sudden hike in fuel prices hundreds of people remained stranded at bus stations in Khulna on Friday.
Many of them, desperate to reach their destinations, crowded the railway station to try to catch a train.
The strike has been called by the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers' Federation and the Bangladesh Truck-Bus Owners' Association. Khula, like rest of the country, has been severly hit by the protest causing immense public sufferings.
It has hit hard especially those who had to travel to Dhaka from Khulna for emergency work. Many expressed anger over the situation.
No intra-city and long haul buses left Sonadanga, the central bus terminal in Khulna, since Friday morning. So passengers have to reach their destination by paying several times more fare in small cars including auto-rickshaws, mini pickups, microbuses. .
Kazi Nurul Hasan Baby, president of the Motor Workers' Union, said the owners and workers were in an immense financial crisis during the Covid pandemic. "Now the rise in fuel prices is creating a crisis again when we have start recovering from the losses."
Passengers started gathering at Khulna railway station to reach their destination by train. Many people are getting on the train by force even though they do not get tickets.
Md Sharif, who came from Labanchara to the railway station for a ticket, said, "I went out to go to Dhaka and got stuck here due to the strike. However, after a long wait I found out there were no tickets when I came to take the train to go to Dhaka."
Khulna Railway Assistant Station Master Ashiq Ahmed said many people showed up at the station as they could not get buses since morning. "I am struggling to handle the extra passengers."
On the other hand, farmers and traders are suffering immensely for transporting their goods.
University admission seekers and government job seekers have suffered the most due to the suspension of bus services.
“My sister needs to attend her semester exams at Islamic University tomorrow (Saturday),” said a passenger named Kazi Iftekhar. That is why he has to go to Kushtia. "But I am worried about how I can go now amid this transport strike."
Buses plying between Dhaka and Khulna were seen lined up at the Sonadanga bus terminal in the Khulna metropolis and at the Royal intersection. Many people are coming and inquiring about the resumption of the bus movement. But no one has any answer.
Meanwhile, Khulna District Bus Minibus Coach Owners' Association's Joint Secretary Anwar Hossain Sona said no bus left Khulna due to the strike. All intra-city and long-haul buses are standing at the terminal. The strike will continue until any further decision from central leaders.
On Thursday, bus, truck and covered van owners called an indefinite nationwide strike from Friday in protest against fuel price hike.
Convenor of Bangladesh Truck-Covered Van, Tank Lorry and Prime Movers Owners and Workers Coordination Council Md Rustom Ali announced their decision on Thursday following an emergency meeting of the organization.
Leaders of the organization said the government raised the toll of Bangabandhu Bridge and Muktarpur Bridge from 257 per cent to 300 per cent “illogically” on November 2 and then it raised the prices of fuel, said a press release.
Transport movement had remained suspended for a long time due to Covid in the last two years. When the transport owners are trying to make a turnaround from their huge losses caused by Covid shutdown, the decision of raising bridge toll and fuel price was announced, they added.
On Wednesday, the government raised the prices of diesel and kerosene at the retail level.
As per the new price, the diesel and kerosene will be selling at Tk 80 per litre instead of Tk 65 with effect from zero hour on Thursday, said a press release of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.
It said the prices of other petroleum products will remain unchanged.
It clarified that the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has been incurring a loss of Tk 20 crore per day as it is selling diesel at Tk 13.01 lower per litre and furnace oil at Tk 6.21 per litre, lower than their imported prices.
It said the petroleum prices have been readjusted against the backdrop of price hike of petroleum on the international market.