Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity has asked the government to withdraw the decision to hike fuel prices when people are already struggling with soaring commodity prices.
The association made the demand at a protest rally held in front of the National Press Club in the capital on Saturday (6 August).
Speakers at the rally said that the government increased diesel and kerosene prices by Tk15 to Tk80 last November. At that time, bus fare was hiked by 27% and launch by 35% which was much higher compared to the rate of fuel price hike.
Secretary General of Jatri Kalyan Samity Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said that the increase in fuel price by almost 50% in a very difficult time for the common people, who are disoriented by the increase in commodity prices, has caused extreme suffering in public life.
He said, "The increase in fuel prices will double transportation costs and the price of daily necessities will go beyond the affordability of common people.
"There is already turmoil in the transport sector. Industrial production will be disrupted, increasing dependence on imports. Unable to survive the competition, many small industries will shut down. As a result, the pressure on the national economy will increase due to the increase in import costs and the unemployment problem will be more pronounced."
He said bus and other public transport fares usually increase several times more than the increase in oil prices.
"The truck-covered van owners also increase the freight fare at will. In the case of buses, the government bus owner-labour leaders together monopolise the increase of the bus fare by collecting several times the additional fare from bus to bus," alleged the secretary general.
Even if the government increases the bus fare, he said, it cannot take any effective measures to monitor whether the bus fares are being collected as per the prescribed list or to stop the increased fare collection.
He also said that despite increasing the price of fuel in the global market, the oil market is currently in a negative direction. At this time, without monitoring the market, the decision to increase fuel oil prices simply to implement IMF prescriptions is irrational and anti-people.
At this time, the vice-president of the association, Tawhidul Haque Liton, joint secretary general M Monirul Haque, Publicity Secretary Mahmudul Hasan Russell and others also spoke at the protest meeting.