Dhaka-bound people flout health rules

Spike in corona infections feared

Special Correspondent

19 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Thousands of Eid holidaymakers thronged Banglabazar-Shimulia and Daulatdia-Paturia ferry terminals on Tuesday to return to Dhaka and other destinations, violating health safety guidelines against the deadly coronavirus.

Health experts repeatedly warned that the ongoing wave of coronavirus might spike further amid the mad rush of home-bound people during the Eid-ul-Fitr festival.

Major ferry terminals are witnessing massive crowds as Eid holidaymakers started returning to the capital in great numbers, defying the restrictions against coronavirus.

The people from north and eastern regions who went to their village homes to celebrate the Eid also started to come back to the capital by Dhaka-Tangail, Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Chattogram highways.

Many offices and factories started operations on Sunday after the three-day public holiday for Eid-ul-Fitr.

People started coming back to Dhaka from Saturday to join work, but the crowd increased at the ferry terminals on Tuesday morning.

According to media reports, a large number of passengers, mostly from southern districts, started boarding ferries on Daulatdia-Paturia and Shimulia-Banglabazar routes early in the morning.

About 17-18 ferries are operating on Shimulia-Banglabazar route, according to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) sources.

At the Daulatdia ferry terminal, the scene was a little different.

There were queues of goods-laden vehicles at the terminals, but many commuters suffered due to lack of public transport.

They had to pay excessive fares for using alternative vehicles like CNG- and battery-run auto-rickshaws, motorcycles or pickup vans to reach Dhaka since buses are not operating due to the restrictions.

Shimulia Traffic Police Inspector Hilal Uddin said that ferry services were running as usual. Passengers and vehicles were able to cross the river easily.

Meanwhile, holidaymakers from the northern districts have also started flowing back to the capital and surrounding areas on Tuesday.      

Stream of the Dhaka-bound people was seen on Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu Bridge Highway on Tuesday.

Despite a ban on long-haul services amid Covid-19 restrictions, buses from northern districts like Panchagarh, Dinajpur, Rajshahi, Natore and Pabna were seen operating.

Officer-in-charge Yasir Arafat of Elenga highway police outpost in Tangail said they were taking legal action against long-route buses.

“[But] many long-distance bus drivers have hit the streets despite being booked multiple times,” he added.

Travelers said they had to pay almost thrice the usual fare to secure transportation services. Rubel Miah, who was heading out of Dhaka, said he had to pay Tk 1,200 for a trip to Dinajpur instead of the usual Tk 400-500.

In a bid to control the pandemic, the government asked people not to travel to their hometowns for Eid-ul-Fitr.

But, hundreds of thousands still made the trip in the days before and after the festival.

As Covid-19 cases kept growing at an alarming rate since mid-March, the government imposed a nationwide ‘lockdown’ for one week from April 5. Later, a "stricter lockdown" was announced from April 14 to 21.

On April 23, the Cabinet Division issued a notice, allowing shops and shopping malls to operate from April 25 (10am-5pm) on a condition that they would maintain proper safety protocols.