Bus owners in Barishal have called a transport strike for Nov 4-5 to demand that local passenger vehicles and other three-wheelers be kept off the highway.
The second day of the strike, however, coincides with a mass rally organised by the BNP and the stoppage of long-haul and local bus services threatens to disrupt the event.
Kishore Kumar Dey, general secretary of Barishal District Bus Owners Group, said a memorandum demanding the prohibition of three-wheelers on the highway has been handed to the local administration, reports bdnews24.com.
"If the demand is not met by Nov 3, bus services will be stopped on Nov 4 and 5," he said on Wednesday.
Earlier on Oct 22, bus operators in Khulna had called a strike to press home the same demand for the day the BNP was scheduled to hold a rally. The two-day strike blocked off a route to the city for party workers while also affecting ordinary citizens.
It prompted the BNP to level allegations of a 'conspiracy' at the Awami League, but the ruling party waved them away and reiterated its belief in the freedom of political assembly.
Advocate Bilkis Jahan Shirin, organising secretary of the BNP's regional unit, raised questions about the strike being called before and during the party's rally in Barishal. “Didn't the bus owners notice the illegal vehicles on the highway all this time? Such initiatives certainly have a motive. They are clearly trying to disrupt the BNP's gathering," she said.
However, the transport owners and the labour union denied the BNP's allegations and insisted it was not linked to the rally.
"We didn't know anything about the BNP's rally. We are holding a meeting seven days in advance over our demand to ban three-wheelers and the issue of the bus strike. It has nothing to do with the BNP rally," said Kishore.