Passengers of buses and launches will have to spend more than usual for their journeys as the authorities concerned are likely to increase the fares to maintain the social distancing inside the vehicles to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The fare committee of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) will decide on raising the fares on Saturday and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) will do the same for water transports after 10 days.
However, train fares will remain unchanged, according to sources at the Ministry of Railways.
Earlier on Thursday, the government decided to allow public transports, including buses, trains and inland water vessels, to resume services from Sunday while abiding by social distancing rules and health directives.
On Friday, in separate meetings with transport owners on Friday, BRTA and BIWTA decided to resume public transports.
After the meeting, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said, "We are passing through a crisis. Please maintain health directives in the interest of both the passengers and staff of the transport sector."
Quader also told people to maintain social distance in queues and refrain from crowding at bus terminals.
He said all terminals should have hand-washing facilities and that no passengers will be allowed to stand inside the bus.
The minister also stated that 25-30 percent of seats should be left empty; people must wear masks, and disinfectants must be sprayed over the vehicles after each trip.
Quader said a rational fare chart would be made on Saturday.
Khondoker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association, told The Business Standard that it is impossible to operate the buses at the existing fares.
"We have to maintain health directives and reduce the number of passengers. So, it is necessary to increase the fare," he said.
"The BRTA will sit again on Saturday. I think a fruitful solution will come through the discussion."
Shahjahan Khan, acting president of the Bangladesh Road Transport Sramik Federation, Moshiur Rahman Ranga, president of Bangladesh Road Transport Samity, Ramesh Chandra Gosh, chairman of the Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners' Association, and Osman Ali, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Sramik Federation, were also present at the meeting.
Meanwhile, the BIWTA has permitted launch owners to resume operations while maintaining social distance.
It also asked them to keep hand sanitiser at the entrance of waterways terminals and screen passengers' body temperatures.
Mahbub Uddin Ahmed Bir Bikrom, president of the Bangladesh Inland Water Ways Passenger Carriers' Association, told reporters after the meeting that they would have to reduce over 50 percent passengers to abide by the health directives.
"It will not be difficult. It will be impossible for the owners to run their business. We will run the launches for 10 days on the request of the BIWTA," he said.
Sources at the road and bridges ministry, the railway ministry, and the shipping ministry said they would set up temperature screening machines at all the entry and exit points. The suspected passengers will not be allowed to board trains, buses or launches.
Director General of the Bangladesh Railway Md Shamsuzzaman told The Business Standard that the railway ministry has decided to preserve two seats against one ticket, meaning trains will carry half its passenger capacity.
"No passenger will be allowed to travel by trains if they do not follow the health directives. Everyone must wear masks. We will not consider any requests in this regard," he said, adding the ministry will not raise fares.