Public transport operators in the capital kept their vehicles off the street without any prior notice on Saturday, causing massive sufferings to commoners, when the BNP held their Dhaka rally on the day.
Many people were forced to reach their destination on foot after failing to avail transport despite hours of waiting. With a shortage of buses on the roads, demands for rickshaws, CNG-run auto rickshaws were high and many complained of being charged extra.
Commuters suffered the ordeal in various areas of the capital including Mirpur, Agargaon, Farmgate, Shahbagh, Paltan, Gulistan, Signboard, Matuail, Rayerbagh, Jatrabari and Malibagh. People were also searched at police checkpoints adding to the misery on roads.
Bus movement between Dhaka and surrounding districts – Narayanganj, Cumilla, Gazipur, and Munshiganj – were also restricted.
Bangladesh Road Transport Association Secretary General Khandkar Enayet Ullah said there was no official decision to suspend bus operation.
"Owners may be operating less buses due to panic. Long distance buses may be stopped due to lack of passengers," he told The Business Standard.
Kamrun Nahar, a passenger from Agargaon to Motijheel, said she was forced to rent a CNG for Tk350.
"Police and Awami League people stopped and checked the vehicle at two places on the way," she said, adding that she could pass through only after showing her office ID.
Iqbal Hossain, another passenger, who had to go to the Airport from Banglamotor area, said, "Unfortunately I cannot afford the CNG. I can only imagine the trouble for office-goers."
A Shikor Paribahan bus driver said even though there is no strike they are not taking any chances.
"If there is a problem, the leaders will not take responsibility," he said.
Launch movement was also very little at Sadarghat since Saturday morning. A few launches were seen operating, that too with little passengers on board. Boats that operate on the Buriganga river were also found closed.
According to the Naval Police information, only three left Sadarghat on Saturday compared to usual 10. On the other hand, only 7 launches arrived at Sadarghat from different parts of the country – the number in regular days is usually over 45.
Member Secretary of Launch Transport Owners Association Siddiqur Rahman Patwari said, "As the passenger numbers are low, less launches are operating."