Commuters had a harrowing time on Saturday as the nationwide indefinite transport strike protesting the recent hike of fuel prices entered the second day.
In Dhaka, most modes of public transport -- including buses both intra-city and inter-city -- stayed off the roads, adding to the miniseries of the general people.
People travelling to and from distant areas – mainly office-goers, job seekers, and admission seekers at seven colleges under Dhaka University – were the most affected and most of them had to walk to their respective destinations.
However, private vehicles, rickshaws, CNG-run auto-rickshaws and motorcycles were seen plying the city thoroughfare.
The Business Standard saw hundreds of people waiting on the roads of the capital desperately looking for a mode of transportation.
A number of commuters complained that CNG-run auto-rickshaws, rickshaws, and ride providers were taking advantage of the untoward situation by charging them extra.
"I have to go to the university urgently. There are no buses available today. CNG-run auto-rickshaws and ride-sharing bikes are demanding way too much money. This is a crisis for me," said Khushbu, a private university student.
Sushmita Pal, after waiting for a bus at Farmgate since 8am Saturday, was forced to take a CNG-run auto-rickshaw ride for Tk300 to reach her office in Motijheel.
She said, "I usually pay Tk15 bus fare to go to my office. But today I had to spend Tk300. Ordinary people like us have to suffer all the time."
Salman, who brought his ill father to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said, "I had to take a rickshaw ride from Mirpur as there was no public transport on the city streets. Moreover, I paid almost three times the usual fare."
Titas Khan, who came to Dhaka for the admission test of seven colleges, told TBS, "I came from Gazipur yesterday to sit for the admission test Saturday. I had to spend Tk400 to come to Dhaka using different modes of transport. At normal times, I had to spend Tk50. I walked to Dhaka College from Farmgate on Saturday, failing to avail a vehicle."
Meanwhile, admission tests of seven government colleges affiliated to Dhaka University were held on Saturday despite the transport strike, causing additional suffering to the students.
While visiting the admission test center at Dhaka College on Saturday, the chief coordinator of seven colleges, Professor ASM Maqsood Kamal said, "73% of the admission seekers were present in Friday's test despite the strike. Hopefully, there will be such a presence Saturday."
However, 3,457 candidates were supposed to take part in the admission test at the Dhaka College Center on Saturday, but 2,345 candidates were present. That means 1,113 candidates were absent at the center.
Besides, the second module of the admission test of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) was held on Saturday. Many admission seekers faced huge sufferings to reach the exam hall due to the strike.
Not only commuters, transport workers, who were already ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, are also suffering due to the sudden strike.
Expressing anger, transport worker Mohammad Mukul said, "I earn only Tk500 a day. I have to manage all my expenses with this. Now I have no income for the second consecutive day due to the strike."
However, with hiked fares, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) buses have remained operational since Saturday morning.
No other bus -- except BRTC ones -- was seen plying the city streets in the morning. However, as the day progressed, several buses from different seating services were seen on the streets.
Sabbir, supervisor of a BRTC bus, told TBS that there is no obstacle for BRTC buses to run the services but the fare is doubled.
In some places the BRTC buses were seen to demand double or triple the fare although the state-run transport has promised to take one and a half times the fare.
Chattogram city dwellers also suffer
Due to the strike, all office-goers, school-college students and garment workers have been suffering a lot since morning in the port city Chattogram, as rickshaw and auto-rickshaws are demanding double fare.
Samim Ara, a second year honor's student of Mohsin College, said her final examination is going on and she was looking for a transport since 11:00 am to reach the exam center in the city's Agrabad area.
"My exam is scheduled to start at 3pm and I do not have any transport yet to reach the exam center," she said.
At the Tigerpass area, some 'transport workers', who are basically youth from slum areas, blocked the road and halted vehicular movement.
M Nizamuddin, Officer-in-Charge of Kotwali Police Station, said the situation is now under control. He urged all not to stage any demonstration or occurrence.
However, transport owners partially relaxed their strike in Chattogram city in the afternoon and most modes of public transport will resume in the port city from Sunday.