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Workers demand reopening of Shela River route

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Staff Reporter Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation here on Tuesday announced to go on a work abstention from Thursday if the Shela River route that goes through the Sundarbans is not reopened to vessel movement by Wednesday. The fresh ultimatum was given at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) in the city. Earlier on Friday, the federation, a platform of seven organizations of river transport workers, from separate rallies in Bagerhat threatened to wage a tough movement, including work abstention, from today (Tuesday) if the river route is not reopened by Monday. The government on December 10 banned the plying of all kinds of vessels through the route until further notice due to an oil tanker capsize in the river with some 3.57 lakh litres of furnace oil. Speaking at the press conference, secretary general of the organization Chowdhury Ashiqul Alam said all the river transport workers will abstain from work from Thursday if the Shela River route is not reopened by Wednesday. He said over one lakh people, including river transport workers, became unemployed due to the postponement of the vessel movement through the Shela River. It will be hard to keep the Mongla port active if the vessels are not allowed to ply through the river, he added. He also demanded that the river should be reopened to vessel movement gain until Mongla-Ghashiakhali channel is revived. Acting president of Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation Shah Alam, its vice-president Jinnat Ali and joint general secretary Raufuzzaman Mintu were also present at the program.