Rozina Islam | Update: 22:46, Feb 28, 2017

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan has backed the countrywide transport strikes enforced by transport workers, arguing that it should not be called strike, rather a work-abstention.Also a workers’ leader, Shajahan hoped that the stalemate would go, but would take time.

Shajahan said this while talking to Prothom Alo about the wildcat transport strike.

Shajahan Khan is the executive president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation.

“An aggrieved person may express his grievances. It should not be called strike; rather you can call it voluntary work abstention. It will be solved, but take time,” Shajahan told Prothom Alo on Tuesday evening.

He, however, said the drivers’ leaders are unwilling to abide by any directive.

Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation announced the wildcat indefinite strike across the country from Tuesday following a court verdict that sentenced a driver to death.

The strike has left people in distress and caused immense sufferings on Tuesday.

The federation on Monday announced the strike after a court had sentenced driver Mir Hossain Miru to death in a case filed over a road crash that left a woman dead in Savar in 2003.

Transport workers have meanwhile been enforcing another indefinite strike in 10 districts of Khulna division since Sunday, protesting at the life term imprisonment of a bus driver in a case over a road accident that killed five people, including noted filmmaker Tareque Masud and cinematographer Mishuk Munier.

The transport workers said they will continue to enforce the strike until driver Mir Hossain Miru is freed.

“The drivers have decided that they will not run the vehicles with potential death sentence or life term hanging over their heads. And that is why they have voluntarily abstained from driving vehicles.”

In response to another question, Shajahan, also a ruling party leader, said the aggrieved drivers don’t want to work with the fear of being sentenced to capital punishment. “Journalists go for work abstention when the police beat them- this is like that.”

“They’ve decided unitedly not to drive vehicles. There is unity among them. There is no provision of death sentence or life term for accidents in the world.”

He said the drivers should not get more than three years’ sentence for accident.

“Around the world, a driver is sentenced to maximum five to seven years in jail for this offence.”

About the death sentence, the minister said, “The case might be filed under section 302 for killing, but you can’t stop killing by death sentence or life term. Intellectuals have created this idea (imposing capital punishmet).”

Siding with the transport workers’ demand, the minister said, “There is no provision of death sentence for accidents in the world. A driver gets maximum five to seven years. Yes, of course you can warn the drivers, but can’t instigate them. Trial must be held, but that should be held following rules and regulations.”

Asked how a solution can be reached, the minister said, “Yes, it will be solved, but will take time. In the present circumstances, the drivers are willing to follow no instructions. We will for sure file an appeal in this regard.”

Read more:

Workers’ leaders vow to continue transport strike
Road minister calls for lifting transport strike

People suffer for countrywide transport strike

16 hurt as police attack hartal supporters

Transport strike in 10 Khulna districts continues

Don’t harass people; go to court, law minister asks strikers

*The article is rewritten in English by Abu Taib Ahmed