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After launching a three-day strike, the owners and workers of trucks and vans in Bangladesh have resumed work after some 33 hours, as the government agreed to meet some of their demands at a meeting on Wednesday.
However, a second strike, set for 27 to 28 September, is expected to go ahead.
“We are happy with the meeting decisions,” said Talukder Md Monir, president, Bangladesh Truck Drivers Workers Federation, after a meeting with home minister Asaduzzaman Khan at his office.
Members of Mr Monir’s organisation, along with the Bangladesh Covered Van-Truck-Prime Movers Goods Transportation Owners Association, had begun the 72-hour strike yesterday calling for 15 demands.
The minister and other officials, including a Police chief, agreed to meet some of their demands immediately, while phasing in others gradually. Truckers had accused the police of harassment and extortion.
The minister also said the government would form a taskforce to ease and speed up HGV license requirements.
The all-out strike across the country saw the movement of goods stop, causing more challenges in an already-congested supply chain. Apparel makers urged the government to intervene as work at land ports, river ports, and seaports halted, forcing authorities to sit down with the truckers to resolve the stalemate.
A Chittagong-based shipping agent told The Loadstar that during the strike period no containers had entered the port area, instead being stockpiled in off-docks and warehouses. Goods at factories were also unable to move, causing a further logjam.
The agent said that loading containers onto vessels remained suspended on Wednesday morning, as outbound boxes had not arrived, causing ship delays.
Another 48-hour strike, called by the Bangladesh Truck Covered Van Tank Lorry Prime Mover Owner-Worker Coordination Parishad, which has 10 demands, is set to start on September 27. The association did not join the government talks.
Maersk said in an advisory that shippers were unable to truck their cargo from the factories to the CFS during the strike.
“There is already a scarcity of truck availability in the market which will continue post-strike due to a surge in demand,” it said. “Trucking cost before and after the strike might go up because of high demand.”
The 15 demands included raising the bar on income tax for vehicle owners; amendments to the Road Transport Act-2018; stopping harassment and extortion by police; easing license requirements for HGV drivers; and setting up rest rooms for truck drivers every 50 kilometres along the highways.