Increasing transport fare cannot be justified while people are struggling hard
AMID rising infection and death due to Covid-19, the government mindlessly eased the clampdown in excuse of protecting the corruption-riddled economy, though millions of dollars poured for social safety net support went into the account of local political goons. A sharp contrast has been seen when the government opts to reopen the economy and publicise the implausible story of development surprise. Moreover, the government committee suggests to raise bus fare, when the prices of crude oil become lowest globally. It, one hand, reopens the economy putting millions of low-income people in health hazard and encourages movement for surviving them, on the other hand, imposes higher fare to cut their pocket deeply.
A committee of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority on Saturday recommended an 80 per cent hike in the fares for maintaining social distance among passengers which would reduce a bus's capacity to 50 per cent of normal level. The new fares will be a major blow for people struggling amid the shutdown since March 26. Meanwhile, Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity urged the government to give incentives to transport companies to keep travelling costs stable. Experts said as there is a shortage of public transport, the decision to keep 50 per cent of the seats vacant would be very difficult to enforce, while an 80 per cent hike would be a major burden for common people. Consumers Association of Bangladesh in a statement termed the proposed bus fare hike unacceptable. The government should announce stimulus packages, or subsidise them by cutting fuel prices.
Despite repeated urge from all walks of people for stern preparedness against Covid-19, a segment of policymakers were satisfied on "government preparedness in words" and mislead the people, and throughout the entire course of time, the government has taken several anti-people steps like reopening garments, not equipping hospitals, not expanding Covid testing and so on. Easing clampdown now is another mistake that might help increase infection when there is no treatment, no vaccine or effective medicine. The government is the trustee of people's safety and security, and let not die people in this way. People cannot be the victims of greed of the transport owners in the time of this global pandemic paying more fare with reduced income and unemployment.