Yesterday at Chattogram Railway Station, one Mohammad Ariful (33) was running to catch the last train of the day. With his three-year-old in tow and wife right behind, the family of three was eager to leave town, but ultimately they didn't get any space on the train.
Like Ariful, thousands of people thronged the station after the government announced a ten-day closure of public and private offices amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Desperate to leave the city, people were buying "standing" tickets for train, with no guarantee that they'd get space in the transportation. However, refunds where available if they couldn't get on the train.
Ariful was planning to take the Dhaka-bound Mahanagar Godhuli. He would get down at a stoppage and take the bus to his village home in Chandpur.
Asked why he is travelling amid the risk, he said, "Our office is closed, and prices of items are increasing."
"We could not get space on the last train. But I'll try to get bus tickets from Kadamtali," Ariful added.
This correspondent found extra passengers at every carriage of scheduled trains. Hundreds stood inside compartments, while others stood by the engine and door.
Aman Ullah Aman, chief inspector of security department at Chattogram Railway Station told The Daily Star, "All passenger train services have been halted for an indefinite period from today [yesterday] afternoon following the ministry's direction. The last train, Mahanagar Godhuli left from Chattogram at 3:15pm."
He said there was a sharp rise in the number of passengers after the government's announcement.
Almost all bus counters of the city in Alongkar intersection, AK Khan, Kadamtali, Bahaddarhat, and Notun Bridge areas were crowded since Monday night.
Md Tarek (25), works as a chef at a restaurant. He was looking for a bus ticket to Dhaka, where his family lives.
"The restaurant is part of a hotel. My food and accommodation was provided there. It has closed down for the time being so I don't have anywhere to stay," he replied when asked why he is travelling during a pandemic.
Meanwhile Shariful Islam (45), said, "Population density is lower in the village; so is the price of essentials. I have taken all precautions for travelling."
Shariful thinks travelling would make little difference in the coronavirus risk factor. "I'd be at high risk even if I stayed in the city; it's highly populated," he said.