With an unofficial holiday of over a week beginning today, thousands of city dwellers started leaving the capital yesterday for their homes to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.
Bus terminals, railway stations and launch terminals were crowded with homebound people yesterday. The rush, however, is expected to intensify today and is expected to reach its peak two days before Eid.
Although the three-day public holiday will begin from Tuesday (May 4), a large number of government and non-government service holders left Dhaka yesterday, taking a leave for the only working day on Monday before the Eid, securing a nine-day holiday at a stretch.
Eid is likely to be celebrated on June 5.
Due to the long vacation, home-goers’ trips are likely to be a little comfortable this year. Besides, most highways are in better condition while new bridges and flyovers have opened to public.
A good number of home-goers left Dhaka city yesterday through different trains, though some of those ran behind schedule.
Passengers had to wait half an hour to over two hours at the Kamalapur Railway Station due to delays.
Among the trains, Chilahati-bound Nilsagar Express was delayed by more than two hours, while the newly launched Rajshahi-bound Banalata Express left Kamalapur around 30 minutes after schedule. The Chattogram-bound Chattrala Express and Rajshahi-bound Silk City Express were delayed by more than an hour.
An official of Bangladesh Railway said most of the 68 trains which will leave or have left Kamalapur will be on schedule, but a few inter-city trains had failed to do so.
He said a huge number of people came to the station after 3:00pm.
Sabuj Hossain, a worker of a textile mill in Narayanganj, said their owner had given them 15 days leave from yesterday due to huge amount of textile stock remaining unsold, which allowed Sabuj to take his wife and daughter to Chatmohol of Rajshahi to celebrate Eid.
“I am very happy as I have got a long vacation but I am still worried as I am not sure whether I will get salary for the full 15 days after eid,” said Sabuj, who gets a salary twice a month, after every half an month.
In the afternoon, passengers’ presence at Gabtoli Inter-district Bus Terminal was usual with transport workers saying they expected a rush from today.
Most tickets for the day had been sold, while buses departed and reached the terminal on time, said workers at different counters. They also said passengers’ rush might increase in the evening and night.
Suvenker Ghosh Rakesh, managing director of Shyamoli NR Travels, told this newspaper that the pressure of home-goers began yesterday and was expected to reach pick on June 3.
He said the situation in the highways was better than before and the authority should take necessary steps to cope with the increased pressure two or three days ahead of Eid.
Meanwhile, some passengers alleged ticket price was higher than usual at some of the counters, which transport workers denied.
Abdul Wahed, a government service holder, said he would go to Jashore to celebrate Eid with family members.
“I checked at a couple of counters for a ticket but they asked for an additional Tk 120 to Tk 150 for it,” he said, adding the usual ticket price from Dhaka to Jashore was Tk 480.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority has set up a “vigilance team” at a booth in the Gabtoli terminal to ensure hassle-free Eid journey for home-goers.
The team would work based on complaints from passengers, said BRTA Inspector Rasheduzzaman there. Police and Rab also set up separate control rooms there.
Besides, the transport ministry set up a monitoring room at BRTA headquarters in the capital’s Banani to take necessary steps in case any problems arise on the roads.
Hamjalal Sheikh, joint convener of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, said, “70-80 launches are operational on 43 waterways on a regular basis. Now, as the holidays have approached, 120 launches were operational just today [yesterday]. The rush has already begun and this will continue until Eid.”
Abdur Rouf, who was going home on a launch with his family for Eid, said, “I came early today [yesterday] so that I don’t have to face the crowd. I did not know the crowd had already begun. If I hadn’t reached the terminal early, I probably would not be able to board my luggage.”
QUADER SEEKS COMMITMENT OF RHD ENGINEERS
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday urged the Roads and Highways Department engineers to work at night during the Eid holiday or on Eid day, if necessary, to ensure smooth journey of holidaymakers.
“It is a matter of commitment. I don’t want to cancel the vacation. However, I am urging the engineers to make this sacrifice [for the sake of people],” the minister said during a pre-Eid preparation meeting of Roads and Highways Department (RHD) at its head office in Tejgaon area of the capital.
This year, there will be no public suffering as the roads are in good condition, he said, adding that if there happened to be any problems then those would be due to the lack of discipline of the drivers on the highways.
Quader requested the owners and drivers of motor vehicles to obey the traffic rules for a smooth Eid journey.