Government’s announcement of a strict lockdown in the country from Monday has triggered a rush at Shimulia ferry terminal as droves of people look to leave Dhaka amid a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths.
A glut of south-bound travellers began swarming the terminal on Saturday.
The ferries were jam-packed with thousands of passengers, with the health and safety directives mostly going ignored, reports bdnews24.com.
Safayet Ahmed, BIWTC manager at the terminal, said 14 ferries are currently operating on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route.
The lockdown curbs prohibit all public transports and movement, including ferry crossings, except for vehicles carrying patients and emergency goods.
“But the passengers are gathering at the jetty despite the ban. Besides, hundreds of vehicles are waiting to cross the Padma on both ends of the terminal,” said Safayet.
As the mass exodus gains momentum, many are also making their way back to the capital.
The government is imposing a nationwide lockdown with tight restrictions for an indefinite period from Jun 28 to curb a worrying upturn in coronavirus cases and deaths.
No one will be allowed to leave home without emergency reasons during the lockdown.
All government and private offices will also remain shut, according to a government statement. Only the agencies providing emergency services will be open.
Safayet said many vehicles were being turned away before reaching the terminal, with police activating check-posts at various points to monitor the situation. Even then, the authorities are struggling to reduce the pressure.
Passengers are boarding ferries to cross the river as launches, speedboats and trawlers are all barred from operating.
However, the lack of public transports has added to the woes of travellers as they are having to bear extra costs to get to their destinations.
Their misery has been aggravated by the flooding of Pontoon Link Road No. 3.
Meanwhile, Munshiganj’s Superintendent of Police Abdul Momen said the law-enforcement agency has set up 20 check-posts in the district to enforce the lockdown restrictions.
Civil Surgeon Abul Kalam Azad said the district has recorded 5,909 cases of the coronavirus infection so far. The death toll from COVID-19 stands at 71.