Maintaining Social Distancing

Returning Eid holidaymakers don’t give a damn

Special Correspondent

21 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

People who went to their village homes to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with their near and dear ones continued to return to the capital on Thursday in violation of health guidelines.

They were seen paying to need to basic precautions, including wearing masks and keeping distance from others, on roads, highways and ferries.

People were also found thronging streets, shopping malls and kitchen markets in the capital and other parts of the country without using masks.

According to global and national health experts, maintaining social distancing is one of the most important easier ways to stay safe during this pandemic.

The Eid holidaymakers were seen returning to the capital in overloaded vehicles on different roads and highways, paying no heed to the instructions.

People from the country’s south and southwestern region were crossing the Padma River through Banglabazar-Shimulia and Paturai-Daulatdia ferry ghats.

But most of the Dhaka-bound people were found flouting health protocols, especially maintaining physical distancing.

Like the last few days, the major ferry terminals also remained busy on Thursday.      People started coming back to Dhaka from Saturday last to join work, but the crowd increased at the ferry terminals on Thursday morning.

A large number of passengers started boarding ferries on the two routes since early in the morning.

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

On the Daulatdia-Paturia route, the scene was a little bit different. At both sides of the ghat, there were queues of goods-laden vehicles.

Meanwhile, many commuters suffered for lack of public transport.

They had to pay excessive fares for using alternative vehicles like auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, microbuses or pickups to reach Dhaka since buses are not operating due to government restrictions.

Traffic police Inspector Hilal Uddin at Shimulia said ferry services were running as usual. Passengers and vehicles had been able to cross the river easily.

Meanwhile, holidaymakers from the northern districts were also returning to the capital and surrounding areas. There was a huge pressure of Dhaka-bound people on Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu Bridge Highway on Thursday. 

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.

Travellers said they had to pay almost thrice the usual fare to secure transportation services.

In a bid to control the pandemic, the government had asked people not to travel to their hometowns for Eid-ul-Fitr. But hundreds of thousands of people made the trips in the days before festival. And they are now making their return journeys.

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

The lockdown has finally been extended until May 23.

 


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