Gloomy weather adds to their woes | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 19, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:35 AM, May 19, 2021

Holidaymakers Scrambling to Dhaka

Gloomy weather adds to their woes

Amid the gloomy weather, holidaymakers were struggling to return to the capital yesterday following the Eid vacation, due to the transport crisis caused by the suspension of long-distance bus service.

Over the last three days, hundreds were seen entering the city as many offices and factories have already reopened after the holidays.

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Many were seen flouting health guidelines -- not wearing masks or maintaining physical distancing -- raising the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

While people from high-income groups are returning either in private cars, flights, or rented vehicles, middle-class and low-income people are using cheaper means.

But they're also facing all kinds of difficulties as they have to pay two to three times more than the usual fare due to the transport crisis, report our correspondents.

Yesterday, their hassle increased following rains in the late hour of the day.

According to data released by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), around 1.06-crore mobile phone users left Dhaka from May 4 to May 15, despite the movement restrictions.

Health experts have expressed concerns that the cross-country travelling en masse may cause a sharp spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases.

Yesterday, over 100 passenger buses were halted at Kazipur upazila in Sirajganj when buses from different northern districts tried to go through the area to dodge law enforcers on highways.

Kazipur police, however, said vehicles carrying passengers to Dhaka were sent back from Sonamukhi area of the upazila.

Additional police were deployed at Sonamukhi and other important places of the inter-district road in Kazipur to stop the buses, Panchanand Sarkar, officer-in-charge of Kazipur Police Station, told the Daily Star.

Passengers and buss staffers demonstrated on the spot due to that, said witnesses.

"I have to reach Dhaka to rejoin my workplace tomorrow [today]. If I don't do that, I might lose my job," said Abdur Rahim, a Dhaka-bound passenger.

Rahim claimed that he did not want to go back home amid the pandemic, but he had no choice due to the sudden demise of his father.

officer-in-Charge of Bangabandhu Bridge (west zone) Police Station Mosaddek Hossain said more than 29,000 vehicles moved across the bridge in the 24 hours till 6am on Tuesday .

Most of them were motorbikes, cars, microbuses and trucks, he added.

Meanwhile, Saidul Islam, employee of a private hospital in Dhaka, along with other colleagues came to Pabna on a private vehicle to celebrate Eid with his family members.

He, however, could not manage a vehicle to return back to the capital yesterday.

"I had to travel on a truck to reach Dhaka. The truck was packed with passengers, but I had no choice as I have to rejoin work," Saidul said.

Talking to The Daily Star, Hasibul Alom, superintendent of Sirajganj police, said the rush of people returning to their workplaces in Dhaka will continue till Sunday.

Additional police have been deployed at entry points to keep the situation under control, he added.

"Although police halted bus movement on the highways but we are unable to stop the huge rush of people as they were trying to return to Dhaka for the sake of their jobs," the SP said.

Besides land routes, the ferry ghats were also swarming with returnees.

As thousands of people from the southern districts flocked to ferry terminals to reach the capital yesterday, crowding was an inevitable scene at the terminals. As a result, social distancing guidelines went almost completely ignored.

Travellers said they didn't have to wait for long at the ghats, as 18 ferries operated between Shimulia and Banglabazar, 16 between Paturia and Daulatdia, and four between Aricha and Kazirhat. These ferry terminals are gateways to the 21 southern districts.

However, after getting off the ferries, travellers faced acute transport crisis and claimed they had to pay five to six times more than the usual fare.

[Our correspondents in Pabna, Manikganj, and Barishal contributed to this report]    

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