Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Lockdown in Dhaka: Surging infections, soaring chaos

Bangladesh has been under a fresh lockdown since July 23 last, barring people from leaving their homes except for essential reasons. Are the things really different in Dhaka, the national capital, from the normal life? Not at all!

Dhaka witnessed the higher movement of vehicles on the 11th day of the countrywide ‘stringent lockdown’ with the reopening of garment and other export-oriented factories.

The reopening of banks after a three-day closure, including the two-day weekly holiday, also contributed to a steep rise in movement of people and private vehicles, reports a UNB correspondent.

After a reality-check at different parts of the capital, including Uttara, Mohahali, Mirpur, Kalabagan, Biijoy Srani, Badda, Farmgate, Shyamoli, Karwan Bazar and Bangla Motor, the UNB correspondent saw an increase in the number of private cars and CNG-run auto-rickshaws on roads.

During office hours, Dhaka almost returned to its usual chaotic look in these places with long tailbacks at times.

The correspondents also observed the presence of public transports on Dhaka streets although their operations were supposed to be suspended from Monday.

Rahela Begum, a resident of Moghbazar area, said: ”I see, from my balcony, 15 vehicles passing the main road in front of my building every minute on average like the pre-lockdown days. People are also moving freely without masks. Is this lockdown will be effective enough to bring down infections and deaths?”

Talking to UNB, Jubayer Ahmed, a working man, said, “Mills and factories have been reopened amid the worsening Covid situation. So, people’s movement has increased. It might worsen the situation.”

Akhter Hossain, a traffic inspector at Uttara Zon,e said,” We saw the maximum pressure of vehicles today after Eid. The situation in the morning was almost like pre-lockdown days.”

Traffic Inspector Asaduzzaman (Mohakhali), said: “The number of vehicles is higher than the days before lockdown as almost all industries have reopened.”

However, law enforcers were seen vigilant on the streets as many were detained or fined for wandering without any reason or not abiding by health guidelines.

Even today many workers of export-oriented industries kept toiling back to the capital like days in the past creating a pressure on the entry points of the capital.

While visiting Gabtoli, Syedabad, Tongi, Babu Bazar Bridge, Demra Bridge, Ashulia Bridge and other entry points, UNB correspondents observed a mad rush of people and transports trying to get into the capital in buses, pickup vans, trucks and even on foot.

Although restrictions on public transport movement were supposed to return after 6 am Monday, law enforcers showing an open mind about the sufferings of returning factory workers, allowing vehicles to enter through checkposts till noon.

Reimposed at 8 am on July 23, the second round of strict lockdown will be in force till August 5, unless extended further.

The government on Friday (July 30) allowed industry owners to reopen all export-oriented factories from 1 August amid countrywide stringent lockdown.