Bus services on several long routes are yet to fully resume despite transport owners and workers calling off their strike over the new road transport law following a meeting with the home minister.
Although a strike was not formally announced by transport workers, drivers and assistants nevertheless refrained from operating buses in various parts of the country in protest at the harsher punishment for drivers for violations of traffic rules and road crashes under the Road Transport Act, which came into effect earlier this month.
The number of long-haul buses departing from the inter-district bus terminals in Dhaka's Gabtoli and Sayedabad on Thursday were still relatively low.
“Buses started operating in full swing from Wednesday night. There are no issues now. Over 90 per cent of eastbound buses have left the terminals,” inter-district Bus Owners' Association president Abul Kalam said.
But the majority of buses at Sayedabad were seen parked in the terminal while the passenger turnout was also low.
Bus services at Mohakhali have not returned to normal as most drivers have gone home, according to Abdul Malek, general secretary of Mohakhali inter-district Bus Owners Association. The drivers have gone home in fear, he said.
“The workers are not participating in any movement. But they went home. As a result, less than 50 per cent of the vehicles are operating,” he said.
"Bus services out of Gabtoli are not operating at the usual level. It's true that a lot of passengers are still waiting at the terminal. Only two long-route buses left the terminal whereas the usual number is around 10," Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners' Association official Salahuddin Ahmed said.
According to Salahuddin, services on the Khulna route are being affected the most as protesting transport workers there are still not willing to run their buses, bdnews24.com reports.
Citing long-haul bus company Shohag Paribahan's counter managers, Salahuddin said, "Shohag's buses which left for Khulna have not come back. Workers are not letting these vehicles return so there aren't any vehicles in Dhaka. That's why this crisis has emerged."
But he believes that the situation will return to normal by Thursday afternoon.
"A handful of buses are leaving the terminals. But there are a lot of passengers waiting at the stations," said Dhaka Road Transport Owners' Association president Abul Kalam, who also expects normal bus services to resume soon.
However, transport workers in a few south-western districts continue to observe the strike. Workers in Jashore, Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Magura, Narail, Jhenaidah, Meherpur, Kushtia and Chuadanga, are still 'voluntarily' abstaining from work, said Mortaza Hossain, joint secretary of Khulna Divisional Workers' Federation.
In Jashore, buses have not been operating in any of the 18 routes throughout the district since the morning -- much to the disappointment of passengers who had been queuing up at the bus stand after the withdrawal of the transport strike was announced on Thursday.