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Monday, November 19, 2012

Bus passengers stranded at a bus stop near Shah Amanat Bridge in Chittagong city yesterday after bus and minibus owners and staff went on a 12-hour strike protesting the murder of a driver by robbers on Friday. Inset, passengers embark on a risky ride on a jeep due to a dearth of vehicles during the strike.Photo: STAR
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A 12-hour strike by bus and minibus owners and staff left hundreds of passengers stranded on routes among Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and Rangamati districts and from there to the rest of the country yesterday.

Arakan Road Transport Labour Union and Cox's Bazar Paribahan Malik-Sramik Samonnoy Committee called the strike from 6:00am protesting the killing of a bus driver at Chakaria by robbers on Friday.

The robbers had shot dead the driver of Trisha Paribahan, going to Cox's Bazar from Chittagong, around 8:00pm and robbed the passengers. The gang then looted another 20 buses.

The strike hit hard hundreds of low- and middle-income group passengers who found it impossible to pay the high fares for a ride on the few microbuses plying the roads.

A visit to two major bus stops -- Bahaddarhat Bus Terminal and Shah Amanat Bridge's northern part -- revealed some 500 people waiting for a means of transport.

Waiting for six hours at the bridge area to take his goods to Teknaf, a trader, Md Ibrahim, said microbuses were not big enough and the fares were not cheap enough to suit his expenses.

One passenger, Md Selim Uddin, was caught off-guard while on way to his Naikhangchhari residence of Bandarban from Dhaka, leaving him stranded for some seven hours at the bridge area.

The union General Secretary Md Musa said they would forge tougher movements if the government did not meet in seven days their three-point demand -- the killers' arrest, compensation for the driver's family and security on the route.

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