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Deadline for bus fare cut set by student protesters in Bangladesh to expire


Deadline for bus fare cut set by student protesters in Bangladesh to expire

Photo: Nicolas Chorier

Thousands of Bangladeshi student protesters have given an ultimatum to the government to halve bus fares nationwide by today.

The ultimatum is part of wider road safety measures demanded by protesters after a student was run over by a bus on November 22. Last week, the government cut student bus fares by 50% in the capital, Dhaka, but protesters demanded the cut be extended to the whole country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will likely acquiesce to the half-fare demands, but private bus companies are expected to pressure the government to reduce fuel costs in exchange. However, these responses are unlikely to improve Bangladesh’s poor road safety statistics, which account for  3,000 accidents and 27,000 fatalities yearly. The problem, according to experts, centers on the lack of coordination between the various agencies responsible for transport, urban planning and the implementation of traffic laws.

The government placating the protesters mirrors the passage of tougher traffic laws in 2018 after similar protests. However, in the medium- to long-term, Hasina’s focus is on major transport infrastructure projects like the Dhaka elevated expressway, aimed at diverting heavy traffic away from Dhaka’s clogged streets, rather than better coordinating transport agencies, as advocated by road safety experts.

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