Thousands returning to Dhaka after Eid
Although public transport remains suspended, thousands of people have started coming back to their workplaces in Dhaka after celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr at home, availing all kinds of transport from ferries through river routes to three-wheelers, pickup vans, private cars on roads.
People started moving to Dhaka for livelihood, showing scant regard for health concerns amid coronavirus infection risk, even as Bangladesh on Friday recorded its largest single day spike in infections with 2523.
The government has decided not to extend the general holidays after May 30 and permitted the movement of public transport to a limited extent.
Visiting Shimulia-Kathalbari river route on Friday morning, UNB Munshiganj correspondent found thousands of people packed onto ferries, crossing the Padma to join works in the capital.
Meanwhile, No 3 ferry terminal was submerged as water increased in Padma River after heavy rains in the last few days.
Safayet Hossain, manager, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC), said altogether 14 ferries have been moving in this route but people are adamant and not maintaining physical distancing while crossing the river by ferries.
Among the returning population, very few were seen wearing face masks for health safety, he added.
Since the public transportation remained suspended, people had to pay four to five times the regular fare to motorbikes, pickup vans, trucks when coming back to Dhaka.
Many of those who couldn’t afford the astronomical hikes were seen commencing the long walk into the city.
Alamgir Hossain, officer-in-charge, Louhajong Police Station, said excessive pressure of passengers is preventing any attempt to maintain the rules.
Sirajul Kabir, in charge of Mawa River Police, said speedboats are not plying with passengers although they continued patrolling in the river.
Two speedboats and 43 trawlers were seized for carrying passengers violating the rules, he added.
In Manikganj, thousands of people returned to the capital to join workplaces through Doulatdia ferry terminal in the district.
UNB Manikganj correspondent said thousands of people and their families crossed the Padma on Friday.
Roich Uddin, an official of a private firm in Dhaka, said his office administration called on Thursday night and asked to join the office on Saturday.
Ashiqur Rahman, OC, Goalanda Ghat Police Station, said they have been advising people to cross Padma on separate ferries instead of crowding.
People did not follow their instructions and made huge crowds in each ferry, said OC, adding that it is quite impossible to maintain social distancing in this situation.
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Mahbub Ali Sardar, assistant manager, Doulatdia BIWTC, said a total of eleven ferries carried vehicles and people on Friday.
Besides river routes, thousands of people were seen coming to Dhaka from northern districts by Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Tangail routes, UNB Gazipur Correspondent reports.
Working people returned to their workplaces in Dhaka by pickup vans, private cars, motorbikes, three-wheelers and CNG-run auto rickshaws, he said.
Most of the returning people refrained from maintaining physical distancing in the vehicles, nor was it possible.
Several returning passengers said they counted extra fare.
Gazipur Metropolitan Police (GMP) Commissioner said police are working to ensure passengers’ safety.
He said that police will be active in ensuring social distancing when public transports start moving in limited scale.
The government has decided not to extend the ongoing general holidays after May 30, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told UNB.
“People won’t be allowed to travel from one district to another. Their movement will be strictly controlled in every district and check posts will be set up at the entry and exit points of the districts,” the state minister said.
Educational institutions will remain closed till June 15 but online classes will continue. Markets and shops will remain open from 10am to 4pm but they will have to follow health guidelines, he said.
Bangladesh has so far reported 42,844 coronavirus cases and 582 deaths.