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Truckers' strike halts Bangladeh's export, import
Publication Date : 13-07-2012
Business activities across Bangladesh were seriously hampered during the 48-hour countrywide strike enforced by truckers and covered van owners to press home their 14-point demand, which includes an end to highway robbery.
Export and import were also seriously hampered as no goods could be transported to the prime destinations.
More than 80 per cent of the country's export and import activities are carried out through the Chittagong Port. The transportation of goods between Dhaka and its adjacent industrial areas with the port city was snapped for the strike that ended early in the morning today.
Bangladesh Truck-Covered Van Transport Agency Malik Sramik Oikya Parishad, a platform of the truckers and covered van owners, enforced the strike on Wednesday. Their other demands include an end to extortion and harassment by police.
The incidents of killing drivers and helpers, looting, robbery, snatching of goods on the highways, especially on Dhaka-Chittagong Highway, are increasing day by day thanks to inadequate patrolling by law enforcers.
Exportable garment items, yarn, fabrics, cement, steel and rod are prime targets of robbers on the highways.
"We could not deliver our goods due to the strike over the last two days. More than 60 percent transportation of steel and rod was hampered," said Masadul Alam Masud, chairman of Bangladesh Auto Re-rolling Mills Association.
Masud said transportation of goods, especially by the bigger companies, was seriously hampered for the strike, while smaller ones carried their goods to nearby destinations during the strike.
Most of the bigger rod and steel companies are located in Dhaka and Chittagong and could not carry the goods during the strike, he added.
Generally, the rainy season is a dull period for business of construction materials, especially steel and rod. The strike came as another woe for the sector, he observed.
"We had held a lot of meetings and sent letters to different authorities concerned over the years seeking effective measures against highway crimes in vain. We are going to sit with the home minister soon to discuss the matter," he continued.
Murshed Murad Ibrahim, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said the truck and covered van owners in Chittagong called off their strike Wednesday after a meeting with them.
"The CCCI sent a letter to the home ministry on Wednesday urging the government to resolve the problems of tuckers and covered van owners," Ibrahim said.
"This is a law and order problem that needs to be solved by the government," he observed.
"Transportation of garment items from Dhaka to Chittagong port was hampered greatly for the strike although local garment factories of Chittagong could transport goods to the port," said Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Shipment of garment items will be delayed as many Dhaka-based manufacturers could not transport their goods to Chittagong, he said.
"I cannot exactly count the losses that the garment exporters incurred due to the strike, but it is definitely huge," he added.
A.K. Azad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the business leaders will try to meet the home minister on Sunday or Monday to discuss the matter.
"Such incidents on the highways tend to project a negative image of the country to foreigners. We should stop those incidents," said Azad.