DHAKA (Reuters) - Several small opposition parties in Bangladesh have called for a half-day strike on Thursday against a power tariff increase, which could cause traffic chaos in the congested capital as Pope Francis arrives for a three-day visit.
The strike will begin on Thursday morning and end in the early afternoon, after the pope is expected to land in Dhaka following a visit to neighbouring Myanmar.
Strikes in Bangladesh often involve street protests.
The Communist Party of Bangladesh, which is leading the protest against the increase in electricity prices by an average of 5.3 percent from next month, said it had no intention of disrupting the pope’s visit but the action was necessary given the “burden” on the people.
But police said there would be no problem.
“We will be able to control the situation during the strike and there is nothing to worry about,” said police spokeswoman Sahely Ferdous.
Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with an average traffic speed of just 7 kph (4.3 mph), slightly faster than an average walking speed, according to the World Bank.
Congestion in Dhaka eats up 3.2 million working hours per day, it says.
Pope Francis’ visit will include a mass and meetings with a group of Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh following violence in Myanmar since late August.
Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Editing by Robert Birsel