Homebound rush for Eid yet to peak | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 30, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:34 AM, July 30, 2020

Homebound rush for Eid yet to peak

Buses see low ticket demand; ferry services slow journey to the south

Although Eid-ul-Azha is knocking at the door, not a lot of people are leaving Dhaka this time, ahead of one of the largest religious festivals of Muslims -- to be celebrated on August 1.

Apart from the growing cases of Covid-19, flood in more than 30 districts, the government's directive for public servants to stay at workstations during Eid vacation and people's poor economic condition are the reasons behind the poor number of holidaymakers, transport operators and officials said.

However, the number may increase from today, as the three-day Eid vacation starts from Friday, they said.

Meanwhile, people heading for southwestern district are suffering severely at both the ferry terminals, as flood and strong current in the Padma River continues to disrupt ferry services.

Unlike other years, bus and launch operators did not sell advance tickets. The usual crowd at bus and launch terminals and railway stations ahead of the Eid is also missing this time, while fewer number of bus, launch and trains are leaving Dhaka.

Khondaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association, said the number of holidaymakers is much lower than other years, especially towards the greater Sylhet region.

"Although the number of passengers has increased a little centering Eid, but it is still very low. We are operating only 100 buses out of 300," Enayet, also the owner of Ena Enterprise, told The Daily Star yesterday.

He said transport owners are incurring losses of Tk 300 crore daily, due to the lack of passengers and goods amid the pandemic.

Abdus Sattar, general manager of bus service Green Line Paribahan, said they are operating only 20 buses out of 150, due to low demand.

Only 10 percent buses of their fleet were in operation after public transport resumed operation after three months, Sattar said.

"We thought the situation will change ahead of Eid. But people's movement is very thin even two or three days before Eid," he added.

SUFFERING AT FERRY TERMINALS

Homebound people to the southwestern region of the country are facing hassles, as authorities are failing to operate most ferries on Shimulia-Kathalbari route due to strong current in river Padma, which washed away a pontoon of Shimulia ferry terminal on Tuesday.

As a result, many are taking the alternative Paturia-Dauladia route, resulting in huge pressure of vehicles there and causing tailback of waiting vehicles.

Shib Pada Dey, a private service holder, started from Dhaka in the morning in his private car with his family to go to village home in Bagerhat. "We reached Shimulia terminal around 7am and were able to cross the river after 3pm," he told The Daily Star yesterday.

A staffer of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) said the swollen Padma washed away the third and busiest pontoon of Shimulia ferry terminal and a portion of the approach road on Tuesday.

As a result, ferry service in the route was disrupted and Ro-Ro ferry service was suspended on Tuesday. "Bus, today [Wednesday], 10 out of 16 ferries were operating. But its taking almost double time due to strong currents," he told this correspondent, wishing not be named.

As a result, Paturia-Dauladia route is facing pressure of increasing number of vehicles, Zillur Rahman, BIWTC deputy general manager at the terminal, told The Daily Star yesterday.

"There was pressure of vehicles till 2pm today. But there is no big pressure now," he told this correspondent around 6pm yesterday.

He said they are operating 15 ferries now but all ferries are taking more time than the usual due to strong current on the river he said.

TRAIN AND LAUNCH

Alamgir Kabir, joint director of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) at Sadarghat Launch Terminal said the number of passengers at the terminal yesterday was less than normal.

He said 80 to 90 launches usually left the terminal daily during the normal time, while 82 launches left Dhaka on Tuesday.

"However, the number is likely to increase tomorrow [Thursday] after authorities announced closure of garments factories," he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Railway is operating only 17 intercity trains with 50 percent of the passenger capacity. As all tickets were sold out online and people without tickets were not allowed to journey, there was not pressure of passengers at railway stations, sources said.

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