The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority's (BRTA) meeting on Thursday for fixing half bus fares for students proved futile, as private bus operators disagreed with such proposal, saying there is no scope to do so without declaration of government subsidies.
The BRTA organised the meeting, chaired by Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary Nazrul Islam, at its head office in the city. It followed week-long protests by students in the major cities, like Dhaka and Chattogram, over realising half bus fares and ensuring road safety.
Among others, the Public Security Division senior secretary, Secondary and Higher Education Division secretary, Technical and Madrasa Education secretary, and representatives of Bangladesh Police as well as transport owners and workers associations were present in it.
During the meeting, the bus owners informed that the government is not giving any subsidy to the private sector bus companies.
The number of daily bus trips has reduced, while prices of various spare parts including tires have gone up notably.
In such a condition, bus owners would count loss, if they introduce half pass for students in different metropolises including Dhaka.
Nazrul Islam told the newsmen that the government is continuing its sincere efforts to solve the problems of students by giving importance to their demands, as they are protesting for half fares on buses in Dhaka and other cities.
He further said the government is paying special attention to this demand of the students, and they have sat with the stakeholders.
"We have asked the transport owners' association to come up with a reasonable proposal after discussion among themselves, and they would give us an offer within a short time".
The education and other ministries have also been asked to submit proposals in no time, he added.
The state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) agreed to realise half bus fares from students.
Meanwhile, students gave a five-day ultimatum to the government for meeting their demand for half bus fare, as the BRTA's meeting on the issue ended with no result, said students.
However, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader in a meeting on Thursday said the decision on students' half pass would come on Saturday.
Students in Dhaka and Chattogram cities are organising demonstrations at the key intersections of the metropolises every day, demanding half fare as well as safety of women and children in public transports.
Students of Dhaka College, City College, Ideal College, Notre Dame College, Badrunessa Govt Girls College, Kobi Kazi Najrul College and many other educational institutions in the city are taking position on the key roads every day to protest for half pass, claiming it their right.
Fardin Sadaf, a student of City College, told the FE that before the latest rise in diesel price, most of the buses realised half fares from students.
"Though the government has raised bus fares notably following a surge in diesel price, the bus operators suddenly stopped the facility."
He said their peaceful protest would continue until their nine-point demands are met.
Apart from half bus fares students across Dhaka city also protested on Thursday for safe roads as well as justice for killing of Notre Dame student Nayeem Hasan.
Hasan was hit by a Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) waste-carrying vehicle on Wednesday noon and got critically injured.
He was then brought to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, where doctors declared him dead.