Lockdown announcement triggers mad rush of homebound people

Staff Correspondent

3rd April, 2021 10:44:14 printer

Lockdown announcement triggers mad rush of homebound people

On hearing the announcement of lockdown, thousands of people are leaving Dhaka for their village homes. The photo was taken from Sadarghat launch terminal on Saturday.--Md Nasir Uddin

People in their thousands thronged railway stations, bus terminals and launch terminals in the capital on Saturday to leave for their village homes soon after the announcement of lockdown beginning tomorrow.

The pressure of homebound people started to increase from Saturday afternoon after Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at a press briefing at his residence said the government is set to enforce a lockdown for a week from Monday to stem the coronavirus transmission.

The pressure of homebound people may increase further on Sunday, according to launch and bus operators.

Passengers said as the government is going to enforce the lockdown from tomorrow, there is a possibility of getting stuck in the capital if they do not go home right now and so they are rushing out of Dhaka.

Passengers of Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Sherpur and other northern parts were rushing to Mohakhali Bus Terminal from different areas of the capital to catch home-bound buses.

Jasim Uddin, a private university student, lives in a mess in Shewrapara of Mirpur. Soon after the lockdown was announced, he packed his bag and moved to the Mohakhali Bus Terminal to return to his village home in Haluaghat in Mymensingh.

“I do two tuitions in Dhaka. But it won’t be possible to go to students’ houses due to the lockdown. So, I’m leaving for home,” he said.

Monirul Islam of Jamalpur lives with his family in Taltala of Khilgaon. He said he was supposed to take the whole family to his village home tomorrow but left the capital immediately after receiving the news of the lockdown. “If I can’t go today, there’ll be big crowds on Sunday,” he said.

Shahed Ali, a ticket seller at a bus counter in Mohakhali, said they have been transporting passengers keeping half of the seats empty following government’s directives.

He said they witnessed a huge pressure of passengers soon after the announcement of lockdown. “More passengers have started arriving after the announcement. The pressure of homebound people may increase further on Sunday,” he added.

A huge crowd of passengers was also seen at Sadarghat Launch Terminal.

Visiting the terminal, it was seen that passengers were not abiding by the recommended health guidelines.

It was seen that many passengers were lying on the decks without maintaining social distancing while many others playing cards without wearing masks and many were chanting in close proximity.

Venting his anger, Sagar Hossain, a passenger, said, “The launch is carrying more passengers than half of its capacity as directed by the government. But it is charging 60 per cent extra fare. It is now taking Tk 180 against previous Tk 120.”

About the fare, Sajib Hossain, an employee of a launch, said: “We’re taking the fare as fixed by the government. The fare of cabins has not been increased. Only that of decks and chair coaches have been increased by 60 per cent.”

Similar mad rush was noticed at the railway stations in the capital.

Besides, a panic was created among train passengers who brought advance tickets for making journeys tomorrow and later. Many rushed to the stations to refund the money.

Rajibul Islam went to Kamalapur Railway Station to buy an advance ticket of Kalni Express for Monday to go to Sylhet. “When I came to Kamalapur, I heard the news of the lockdown. Now, I’ve decided to go home today.”

Golam Quader, a passenger of Silk City, said he had collected Monday’s advance ticket. “However, after hearing the news of lockdown, I rushed to the station. I want to leave Dhaka today with this ticket. However, if I can't go today with this ticket, I’ll go by road today,” he added.

Tareque Ahmed, a passenger of Upakul Express, said, “I was worried about the ticket of April 5. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to get out of the house on the day due to the lockdown. So, I came to refund the ticket.”

Manager of Kamalapur Railway Station Mohammad Masud Sarwar said: “Many passengers called me after hearing the news of lockdown. Again, many have rushed to the station. I can't give any solution.”

Due to the increase in coronavirus transmission, the railways had stopped all trains on March 25 last year and started the operation of eight pairs of trains from May 31.

Since then, 280 trains have been launched in phases. From September 18 last, the railways started selling cent per cent train tickets.