The yearly religious event, Eid-ul-Azha, comes to the Muslim across the glove as an ideal opportunity to renew their pledge to be imbued with the spirit of sacrifice. The day is meant to symbolise the supreme sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) who gave up his beloved son to honour the wishes of his Creator. It was a real test of faith and the act itself an expression of great sacrifice.
However, for the people of Bangladesh, it is more of a window of opportunity for socialising than just a religious affair. Due to the centralised nature of the administration, a good number of people in the country have to live in the capital or district headquarters for work, livelihood or other requirements. On the eve of Eid, these people leave the city in droves for their home districts to spend holidays with near and dear ones.Unlike preceding years, Eid this year came on a different background when there was ongoing flood in some parts of the country and the whole country was reeling from an unprecedented outbreak of dengue fever. As a result, many families were not able to celebrate Eid in the manner they would like to. With a reported infection figure hovering at 45,000 and an unofficial causality nearing a hundred as of preparing this piece, the situation stoked up further fear of setting in the disease when affected people would be travelling to their home districts.
In fact, the dengue invasion brought a drastic change in managing traditional balancing act by the government agencies during the festival. By and large, hassles in securing tickets and their exorbitant prices, road accidents, sufferings of holidaymakers on the roads or waterways; cattle markets, buying or selling of cattle etc, are the usual phenomena making the Eid time front-page news. And as regular as clockwork, the responsible authorities are seen buckling down to take the hassles out of activities associated with Eid. Unusually though this time, they had to put much of their seasonal routine tasks on the backburner to tackle the spread of dengue attack.
Just a day before Eid, this paper reported the nightmare for homebound people owing to disorder at train, ferry and bus terminals; long tailbacks on either end of the Bangabandhu Bridge. For harrowing past experience with travelling on roads, many people chose railroad to reach their destinations but their plan boomeranged as the schedule on north-western and southern train routes collapsed with trains running agonising 10 to 12 hours behind the schedule. One of the apparent causes of the delay was a couch derailment at a point near the east corner of the Bangabandhu Bridge. Holidaymakers, travelling on road towards the destinations, also suffered badly. Their sufferings multiplied as they remained stuck for hours in jam in the sizzling hot and sultry weather. Piecemeal road construction, development and repair work, potholes and craters at some points, and incomplete four-lane road work on Dhaka-Tangail highways are among the major reasons to be blamed for the unending tailbacks and subsequently untold miseries to the passengers that they had to bear and grin it.
Meanwhile, holidaymakers at launch and ferry terminal also suffered immensely. Huge rush of passengers, mounting pressure of vehicles, strong current in the rivers, inclement weather, long tailbacks at the approach road to the ferry terminals, mismanagement and flouting traffic rules by the drivers are stated to be reasons for public woes that beggar description.Moreover, the spree of collecting extortionate prices of tickets in all modes of public transport by the operators is a major worry for home goers ahead of every Eid. This time was no different. The matters seem to have got a low priority on the part of the relevant agencies. The consumer rights protection body and Anti-Corruption Commission are reported to have let it ride, although this remains unaddressed for many years now. Transport ticket prices went through the roof with almost all the passengers having to cough up double or triple the usual fares, giving in to the operators’ whim.
True, on every such occasion authorities concerned issue stern warnings against ticket price manipulation, syndication and black-marketing, but the influential transport operators couldn’t care less.
Spike in traffic accident and the unusually high number of death stemming from it seem to have become a norm with Eid holidays. Just around two months ago, during Eid-ul-Fitr, more than 350 homebound passengers met tragic end of life on the roads in a week’s time. Unfit and rundown vehicles, lax monitoring, reckless driving, unlicenced and untrained drivers and dilapidated road conditions are claimed to be reasons behind the accidents and causalities. However, strict oversight on part of the responsible authorities is assumed to have significantly cut down on road fatalities this Eid is a marked improvement and definitely a change for the better.
Getting rid of huge piles of sacrificial animal waste is of course an onerous task. That the city authorities, especially two mayors put enormous efforts into keeping their pledge to do the job within the stipulated 24 hours is indeed laudable and deserve a pat on the back. On the other hand, rawhide prices tumbled to a record low has not only cast a shadow over the potentiality of the entire leather industry but obviously put the foreign exchange earning from the sector in jeopardy.
Overall, the vast majority of people in the country spent the Eid amid heightening tension of picking up dengue infection as the deadly viral fever has been going around with reports of people being hospitalised and lost their lives with each passing day. Needless to say, over the years, the government has performed well in various sectors including economy and Information Technology sectors to lift up the living standard of people but still there is much to be desired when it comes to addressing the issues related to Eid festivity in a sustainable manner. But all developments might pale into insignificance if matters as crucial as public concerns such as outbreak of contagious disease like dengue, congestions on the roads, charging extra for tickets, the slump in rawhide prices etc, were not dealt with once and for all. However, the answer to the problems are staring us in the face. So, it is hoped that the government will do everything under the sun to bring an end to the miseries that crop up during Eid every year.
The writer is an Associate Engineer, Thakral Information Systems Pvt. Ltd. Email: [email protected]