Different political parties and civic rights organisations on Sunday protested at the government’s decision to increase the bus fare during coronavirus pandemic and termed the decision irrational and anti-people at a time when people’s income was diminishing.

They demanded that this decision should be withdrawn immediately.

The government issued a circular on Sunday announcing fare hike of all inter-district and city service buses by 60 per cent, applicable during the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement also asked the bus operators to run at half the passenger capacity by keeping one of every two seats vacant, besides maintaining other health regulations.

The circular was issued a day after Bangladesh Road Transport Authority on Saturday proposed a fare hike by 80 per cent.

The political parties and rights organisations said that the government’s decision would seriously affect the poor and low-income group.

Addressing a virtual press conference from the party central office at the capital’s Naya Paltan, Bangladesh Nationalist Party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi also denounced the government’s decision to hike bus fare and demanded its immediate repeal.

He said that the government’s proposal of hiking the bus fare proved that they are hostile to the people in general as the low-income group had lost their jobs due to COVID-19 situation and struggling to make ends meet.

Leaders of the Left Democratic Alliance formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club protesting against the decision.

The coordinator of the eight party combine, Socialist Party of Bangladesh central leader Bazlur Rashid Firoz, called on the government to refrain from increasing bus fare during this tough time of COVID-19 outbreak.

It would be a huge burden on the common people who suffered during the long lockdown and would continue to suffer after it was withdrawn as many have lost their livelihood, Firoz said.

He announced to hold countrywide demonstrations at district and upazila levels on June 2 demanding withdrawal of the decision.

Communist Party of Bangladesh central leader Ruhin Hossain Prince, Democratic Revolutionary Party general secretary Mushrefa Mishu, SPB(Marxist) central leader Manas Nandi, Revolutionary Workers Party central leader Akbar Khan and others spoke at the rally.

Ruling Awami League-led alliance partner Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-Jasod president Hasanul Haq Inu and general secretary Shirin Akhter in a statement called on the government to withdraw the decision immediately.

Another AL-led alliance partner Workers Party of Bangladesh’s Dhaka city unit president Abul Hossain and general secretary Kishore Roy in a statement also made the same demand.

Conscious Consumers’ Society in a statement said that the decision was against the interests of the people and it was tantamount to a serious oppression and injustice while it urged the government to fulfil the financial losses of the bus owners through government incentives.

In a joint statement, Bangladesh National Awami Party secretary general M Golam Mostafa Bhuiyan, Bangladesh Congress secretary general Md Yarul Islam, National Democratic Party secretary general Md Manjur Hossain Isa and Bangladesh Jatiya Party additional secretary general Zafar Ahmed Joy protested at the bus fare hike and demanded that the decision should be withdrawn immediately.

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