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General Strike in Bangladesh Means Business Comes to Halt

A general strike, aimed at the release of 154 opposition leaders and activists, began in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital on Monday. The strike, which is supported by the opposition party–the Bangladesh National Party–has brought business activity to a halt, and reports from Bangalore’s Deccan Herald indicate that activists detonated several homemade bombs, and “torched at least one bus,” though no injuries have been reported.

Senior executives told Financial Express that “movement of goods” in Bangladesh’s ready-made garments (RMG) industry has come to a complete halt until Wednesday. Thanks to “disruptive political programs,” increased production costs in Bangladesh have already led to a weakened position on the international market.

Industry leaders spoke out on the necessity of safely transported goods–impossible during  a general strike. Annisul Huq, group chairman of Mohammadi Group, predicted that many manufacturers will be forced to make air shipments, rather than ground–a significant expense. Ships, waiting on delayed goods, won’t depart on time, leading to further loss of business and revenues.

The garment industry isn’t the only one affected by the strike. Tourism, needless to say, has all but evaporated; steel workers can’t transport rods. Engineer Shafiqul Haque, a leader of Bangladesh Association of Construction Industry (BACI) and managing director of Sterlite Services, told the Financial Express that his company is unable to transport construction materials to its sites.”Believe it or not,” he said, “our output becomes less than a half.”