Bandarban-Thanchi bus services suspended amid extortion threats

BANDARBAN CORRESPONDENT

Transport associations in Bandarban have ceased bus operations on the Thanchi route, leaving many passengers stranded due to alleged extortion demands. 

The disruption began on the morning of Tuesday (February 6th), with the specific reasons for the halt not immediately communicated to the affected commuters.

The suspension was reportedly triggered by a phone call made to a Thanchi bus station lineman, demanding payment in exchange for safe passage of buses on the route. 

The caller threatened to resort to arson should their demands not be met, instilling fear and leading to the preemptive cessation of bus services. 

The identity of the group behind these demands remains unconfirmed.

Mongchingnu Marma, the lineman at Thanchi bus station, confirmed receiving the threatening call, stating that no buses have departed from the station since the demand was made. 

“An unknown caller demanded a toll and threatened to burn the buses if we did not comply. 

Following the association’s decision, we have not allowed any buses to leave,” Marma explained, noting his uncertainty about the identity of the extortionists.

The situation has led to significant inconvenience for passengers, who were seen waiting at the Bandarban Thanchi station in the hope of reaching their destinations. 

Many have been forced to find alternative means of transport, such as bikes or three-wheeled Mahindra vehicles, often at considerably higher costs.

Passengers, including Mrasaiu and Molla, expressed their frustration and confusion at the unexpected halt in services. 

“We’ve been waiting here since the morning, unaware of why the buses aren’t running. Some of us have had to pay double the usual fare just to get by,” they shared, highlighting the distress experienced by the general public.

Iqbal, president of the Jeep and Mahindra Microbus Association, stated that while their vehicles continue to operate on the route, the reasons behind the long-distance bus suspension are unknown to him.

Thanchi Upazila Executive Officer (UNO) Md. Mamun has acknowledged awareness of the issue, indicating that further investigation is necessary to understand the cause of the suspension and to address the concerns of the commuters and transport associations alike.

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