Rajib Kumar Dey was coming to Chattogram city from Sitakunda to visit a patient in a hospital. When he reached City Gate area of Chattogram city, protesting transport workers smeared his face and the car he was in with used engine oil.
This is one of the many such cases where the workers were seen smearing private car drivers and passengers with used engine oil at different points in the city on Wednesday – the first day of an indefinite strike across the country announced by the Bangladesh Truck Covered-Van Owners Workers Oikya Parishad on Tuesday. The platform announced the strike to press home its nine-point charter of demands for amending the Road Transport Act 2018.
Some of the protesting workers were even seen cheering as they stood on the cars. Plying of public transport came to a stop as protesters created an environment of fear by snatching away the keys and forcing the passengers to get down from buses and walk to their destinations.
The workers took position at different points from City Gate to Faujdarhat. They also put up barricades on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway, suspending vehicular movement on the road.
Meanwhile, passengers were seen thronging the bus counters in Alongkar and AK Khan intersections.
Businessman Arifur Rahman was also on his way to Chattogram city on an important task. Transport workers also harassed him by smearing his face and car with used engine oil in the City Gate area.
"The transport workers are on strike…I have no problem with that. But they are attacking the private cars and harassing the public. These are crimes. But the law enforcement agencies are not taking any effective action against them," said Arifur while venting out his frustration.
Kafil Uddin Ahmed, general secretary of the Chattogram Inter-District Bus Owners' Association, said, "The truck workers were obstructing the long distance bus services. Vehicles were vandalised and drivers were beaten up in Alongkar and Nizampur areas."
"Passengers were also forced to get down from the buses. Therefore, we suspended long-distance bus services to the North Bengal and Cox's Bazar," said Kafil.
Shafiq Ahmed Sajib, general secretary of the Nirapad Sarak Chai, Chattogram chapter, told The Business Standard, "If the transport owners and workers have any problem with the new law, they should hold a dialogue with the government that can bring out a solution."
"But the transport workers are holding people hostage. They are hampering the economic progress. These kind of activities are a challenge to the country's law."
The workers who are involved with such destructive acts should be bought under the law, Sajib said.