Mawa-bound ferry service came to near-halt from Madaripur’s Kawrakandi from Friday morning, ahead of the 24-hour strike called from the evening to thwart the anti-Hifazat-e Islam’s long march programme, due to ‘shortage of passengers’.
Witnesses said no long-route buses arrived at these terminals since morning. Many passengers from nearby areas rescheduled their trips amidst uncertainty. Speed-boats were also unavailable.
Islamists under the banner of Hifazat-e Islam were expected to make for Dhaka from Friday noon. The banner dubbed the Ganajagaran Mancha bloggers ‘atheists’ and demanded their punishment. Police granted them conditional permission to hold a rally in Dhaka’s Motijheel on Saturday.
“We have stopped our speed-boats due to passenger crisis, not because of Hifazat’s long march,” Kawrakandi terminal speed-boat owners’ association General Secretary Delwar Hossain told bdnews24.com. “We will ply if passengers are there.”
Kawrakandi terminal launch owners’ association leader Monir Hossain also cited similar reasons for halting the launch services.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Kawrakandi Assistant Manager MA Baten told bdnews24.com, “We did not stop ferries. But we can’t operate empty ferries.”
AMadaripur police officer in charge of the Kawrakandi terminal said authorities did not close down ferries. “Ferries are not operating due to low turnout of passengers.”
On the other hand, the Hifazat-e Islam complained that they were not getting transport for coming to Dhaka, and said it would start on foot, if needed.
Meanwhile, 25 socio-cultural-professional organisations have called a 24-hour shutdown from Friday 6:00pm to thwart the Hifazat’s march. Left-leaning parties have endorsed the strike.
Moreover, the Ganajagaran Mancha has also called for a transport blockade from Friday 6:00pm to Saturday 4:00pm for the same reasons.