The Covid-19 induced month-long lockdown has caused about Tk82 crore in losses to transport owners in Bogura.
The bus owners said they have been badly affected by the closure of bus services for a month. Not only bus owners, drivers and transport workers are also living a helpless and inhuman life due to the lockdown.
Due to strict lockdown, all types of public transportation were closed from 5 April to 5 May. Then, public transport resumed its services in the cities and district towns.
The government has provided financial assistance for the transport workers. Drivers and workers said half of the drivers and the helpers did not get this assistance.
Bogura is more important than other northern districts due to its geographical location. Bogra is also the transport business hub of Rangpur division and parts of Rajshahi division.
According to the sources of Bogura District Motor Owners Group, about 1,500 buses operate from Bogura to different districts. Of them, about 700 long-distance buses operate daily from Bogura. The average daily income from each bus is Tk30,000. Thus, 200 buses earn Tk2.10 crore per day and Tk63 crore a month.
SR Paribahan is one of the transport services from Bogura to Dhaka. The SR Group operates 100 buses on the route. Of these, 60 buses are air conditioned and the rest 40 are non-AC.
Bogura Sadar MP Golam Mohammad Siraj, also chairman of SR Group, said if an AC bus completes two trips from Bogra to Dhaka every day, it earns Tk60,000 daily and the income of a non-AC is Tk30,000.
The company has counted huge losses due to closure of public transport for the month-long lockdown, he added.
SR Paribahan sources said the company has counted monthly losses of Tk9 lakh per bus. The total loss of SR transport has been Tk45 lakh a month.
According to the district motor owners group, about 500 buses ply the inter-district routes. The average income from each bus is Tk9,000. The daily income from those buses is Tk45 lakh and the buses earn Tk13.50 crore a month.
About 300 buses ply the inter-upazila routes. Each bus earns Tk6,000. In this way, the daily income from 300 buses is Tk16 lakh and monthly income is Tk5.40 crore.
So, the monthly income of bus owners in Bogura is Tk81.90 crore.
Helalur Rahman Helal, northern area manager of Hanif Travels, said the company has lost at least Tk9.50 lakh every day due to the closure of its 32 buses on Bogura-Dhaka route. At the same time, parts of the buses are also at risk of being out of service.
Tawfiq Hasan Moyna, senior vice-president of Bogura District Motor Owners Group, said inter-district bus services were closed for a month due to strict lockdown, causing a loss of at least Tk80 to Tk90 crore.
There is no way to make up for this loss except by reopening the transport services. If everything in the country can go on normally, what is wrong if transports run, he asked.
Not only bus owners have suffered due to the closure of public transport, the drivers and employees involved in the sector are also severely affected.
According to the Bogura District Motor Workers Union, there are 22,000 transport workers in Bogura. Among them, 2,000 workers received financial aid as a Covid-19 incentive. The rest did not get any aid.
Rouful Islam, driver of a Dhaka-Bogura route bus, said his economic situation is very bad because of Covid-10 situation. The small savings he had, has already been spent. He has not received any financial aid yet. Now it has become difficult to run the family.
About the workers' financial crisis, an official of the district administration said if they receive any grant from the government, they will make a decision keeping in mind the problem of the workers.
Abdul Mannan Akand, spokesperson of the Bogura District Owners-Workers Joint Committee, said, "If we can keep open everything and only close the transport in the name of lockdown, what other way do we have but to count losses worth crores of taka?"