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Transport strike paralyses Bangladesh

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Staff Writer | October 29, 2018
A nationwide transport strike on Sunday caused immense suffering to commuters across Bangladesh including capital Dhaka.
Bangladesh strike
Asia   A new-born baby died in the eastern city of Sylhet
Transport workers called the strike on Saturday morning with an eight-point demand including reform to the recently passed Road Transport Act.

A new-born baby died in the eastern city of Sylhet after protesters blocked her ambulance and beat up the driver, family members told news agency United News of Bangladesh.

In Dhaka, office goers and students faced trouble in reaching their destinations.

Private car owners and auto-rickshaw passengers were forced by protesters to step out of their vehicle and walk.

The protesters smeared motor oil on commuters, students and private cars on the streets, local media reported.

No inter- and intra-city buses operated across the country, national daily Bangladesh Protidin reported.

The protesters demanded making all road accidents a bailable offense, cancellation of a provision that allows a driver to be fined for up to $5,965 for involvement in a road crash, and lowering minimum educational qualification required for obtaining driving licenses from grade eight to five.

They also demanded representation in investigation committees which probe road accidents, an end to harassment by police, and to set fines according to wage scales.

“There is no precedence to make accident-related offenses non-bailable,” said Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation General Secretary Osman Ali, according to bdnews24.com.

“And it is not possible for drivers to pay $5,965.16 fine for road accidents,” he added.

Bangladesh Law Minister Anisul Huq told reporters in Dhaka that transport workers are observing a strike as they are not fully aware of the law.

“There is no such a provision in the law which can affect anybody if they don’t commit any crime. I urge them to withdraw the strike,” he said.

In another meeting in Dhaka, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader ruled out the possibility to bring any change in the act.

The Road Transport Act penalizes negligent driving which kills or injures someone with a maximum sentence of five years in jail or a fine of $5,965 or both.

The government was pressured into formulating the act earlier this year following mass protests after a bus ran over two college students in late July.

The students’ movement lasted for weeks drawing attention nationally and internationally.


 

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