PM relaxes shutdown in consultation with experts: Quader


DHAKA, May 29, 2020 (BSS) – Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader today said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has decided, in consultation with experts, not to prolong the nationwide general holidays amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis considering the livelihoods of people.

“In consultation with experts, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has decided not to extend general holidays, and resume public transports with conditions aiming to keep the livelihoods of the people smooth apart from protecting their lives,” he said.

Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, said this while speaking at a view-exchange meeting through videoconferencing from his official residence here.

The Bangladesh Road Transportation Authority (BRTC) held the view-exchange meeting with transport owners and workers at its Banani office in the city.

The road transport and bridges minister said the government suspected the movement of transportation and announced general holidays in the last week of March 2020 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Though deaths from COVID-19 and coronavirus transmission reached an alarming level in many countries, they have relaxed lockdown considering the overall situation, he said.

Quader said Sheikh Hasina is a generous person and there is no question about her  generosity and love for the country’s people.

He urged the people involved in transport business to take decisions, taking the ongoing crisis into the account.

“A small mistake may cause a big havoc. Prepare some conditions or policy on how you would provide passenger services and would maintain health guidelines,” he added.

Coronavirus may terribly be spread through mass transportation in which transport workers, owners, passengers and passersby are involved, the road transport minister said.

He said if one virus-infected person travels by a public transport, many could be infected with the deadly virus .

“So, finalise conditions on how passenger services could be provided in a limited way.

And strictly follow the conditions,” he added. Besides, he said, all concerned should be careful so that road accidents could be checked in the country.

About the prevention of coronavirus, Quader said health guidelines, social distancing and physical distancing must be maintained and no gathering would be allowed in bus terminals.

Passengers must collect tickets of buses maintaining three metres distance to each other while standing in queues, he said.

Noting that adequate hand-washing arrangements must be kept at bus stations, the AL general secretary said no standing passenger will be allowed in buses and 25 to 30 percent seats of the buses must remain vacant.

Only family members can be able to sit at the adjacent seats otherwise bus passengers must sit separately keeping distance, he said, adding that all the passengers, bus drivers, helpers and counter workers must use masks.

Quader said spraying disinfectant in the whole bus must be made mandatory before and after a trip, and physical distance of passengers should be maintained while getting in and down a bus.

“After a certain time, bus drivers and helpers must be kept in quarantines or rest,” he said.

“Hand bags and belongings of passengers should be sprayed with disinfectant…the BRTC has a committee to fix bus fares and it will finalise rational bus fares in consultation with you (bus owners),” he added.

The road transport and bridges minister hoped that the transport owners would take proper steps to contain spread of coronavirus in buses. “People are anxious now and help them minimise their worriedness,” he added.

He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken a courageous decision to resume public transport at a limited scale, which means she keeps trust in transport owners and workers.

“And show respect to her trust,” he added.

Quader stressed the need for arranging counselling for bus drivers, helpers and transport workers and giving them necessary instructions before starting a bus trip.

Police, BRTA and his ministry will provide necessary support for them, he said.

Besides, he said, the BRTA mobile courts will remain active to punish the traffic rules violators.

At the beginning of his speech, Quader gave 12-point instruction to transport owners and workers in resuming public transportation amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.