Long-haul buses may suspend services to and from the capital on 9 and 10 December ahead of the BNP's Dhaka rally – a recurring pattern that has followed the party's series of political programmes across the country.
But unlike the previous times, inter-district buses are likely to be pulled out of roads citing passenger scarcity and security reasons, according to bus owners, which will leave the capital disconnected from the rest of the country.
There was no official announcement by the transport owners in this regard till Wednesday. Transport workers and passengers, however, said they were bracing for the bump.
Though the owners have not announced any transport strike ahead of Dhaka rally, bus operators in the capital and in different districts did not sell advance tickets for 9 and 10 December on their own, according to The Business Standard district correspondents.
"We have no central instruction about a strike yet. But we are now witnessing a sharp fall in Dhaka-bound passengers," Mosharaf Hossain, general manager of Hanif Paribahan, told TBS.
"We are assuming that people do not want to travel to Dhaka due to escalating political tensions. If this continues, the service will be suspended automatically," he added.
Suvenker Ghosh Rakesh, managing director of Syamoli NR Travels, also attributed the drop in passengers to the brewing political tensions. Besides, he noted that people are now travelling less thanks to a number of public exams and the economic situation eroding people's leisure spending.
Suvenker, too, said the owner does not have any instruction to stop services ahead of the BNP's Dhaka rally.
Transport owners' leader Md Mashiur Rahman Ranga said their organisation has not made any decision in this regard. "But we are not getting enough passengers. Buses are running empty. Owners may suspend service to minimise the losses."
The public transport leader claimed bus owners also fear political violence centering the BNP rally. Besides, there are safety issues of bus drivers and other staff.
"The BNP vandalised and set fire to 600-700 buses in 2014. For these reasons, the owners can stop the services at their own discretion," Ranga told TBS.
CNG-run auto-rickshaws are going to suspend services in Dhaka from 8 to 13 December, according to a number of owners.
However, Borkot Ullah Bhulu, president of CNG-run Auto-rickshaw Owners' Association, told The Business Standard that they want to continue services as any strike means financial losses.
"But if any situation arises, the services will be suspended," he added.
BNP Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said people braved the previous transport strikes in divisional rallies and joined the political programme peacefully.
"The same will happen in Dhaka. Despite facing suffering, people will make the grand rally a huge success," he told TBS.
[Our correspondents Bulbul Habib in Rajshahi and Awal Sheikh in Khulna contributed to the report.]