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Road transport minister hints at review of crackdown on buses in Dhaka

4The government seems to have backtracked on its crackdown on special buses that refuse to carry

standing passengers in Dhaka.

Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader told the media on Tuesday that he asked the decision,

backed by transport operators, to be reviewed.

His statement comes two days after the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority or BRTA launched a

drive against buses transporting only seated passengers for a higher fare.

The crackdown left Dhaka residents suffering as owners have pulled most of their buses off the

streets despite threats from authorities to scrap their permits for doing so.

"I have spoken with representatives of the transport owners' association and asked them to review

their decision (to stop services exclusively for seating passengers) for the sake of public interest,"

Quader said.

The cabinet member seemed apparently helpless when he described transport owners as

'influential.'

"If someone refuses to operate services, is it at all possible to force him? That’s the reality. Those

involved in the transport sector are a very influential quarter."

Earlier this month, the Dhaka Bus Owners' Association said the services would be stopped by Apr 15.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority then began a drive against the buses on Sunday.

Brawls were reported on many buses as commuters accused transport workers of charging them

extra fares. People were seen stranded with fewer buses plying the routes.

Women in particular were the prime sufferers because the competition to get on the buses that

required shoving and pushing was now worse.

On allegations of creating an artificial crisis to 'legalise services exclusive to seated passengers',

Quader said, "It can be only known after a review whether that's the case.

"I have instructed the BRTA chief and association leaders to weigh the public sufferings and keep

that in mind while finding a solution."

He said that a meeting will be held on Wednesday, where representatives of the civil society and the

media will be asked to join.

Asked on the BRTA's warning to scrap route permits, the minister once again sounded helpless.

“Whenever we launch a drive against unfit vehicles, buses are taken off the streets leaving citizens

to suffer. We come under fire from both sides.”

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