Buses get back on the roads | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:40 AM, June 02, 2020

Buses get back on the roads

Operate at half capacity to ensure physical distance among passengers; health guidelines maintained on trains but not on launches

Road transport services across the country reopened yesterday after more than two months of suspension.

To maintain distance among passengers, most of the transport companies reduced the vehicles' capacity to about 50 percent of normal levels.

Transport workers were seen spraying disinfectants on passengers' hands before they got on the bus. There was hardly anyone without wearing a mask.

People on the trains mostly maintained the health guidelines on the second day of the reopening, but there were large crowds at Sadarghat Launch Terminal in the capital.

The government enforced the countrywide shutdown and travel restrictions on March 26 to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Road transport services reopened yesterday with a government-approved 60 percent hike in fares.

Samdani Khandakar, office secretary at Dhaka Road Transport Owners' Association, said bus services resumed in Dhaka and its adjacent areas maintaining all health guidelines of the government.

"We have given masks and gloves to our drivers and other employees. We hope passengers will maintain the health safety guidelines," he told The Daily Star.

Jaki Hossain, a conductor of Bihongo Paribahan which travels between Pallabi and Sadarghat areas of the capital, said he and his colleagues washed the buses with savlon and bleach on Sunday night .

"We are charging passengers Tk 48 for the distance between Pallabi and Sadarghat instead of the previous fare of Tk 30," he said.

Half the seats have been kept empty to maintain physical distance among passengers, he added.

Mosharref Hossain, general manager of Hanif Paribahan, said, "The presence of passengers is very thin."

Seven mobile courts of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority fined nine traffic violators Tk 16,000 in different parts of the country.

HEALTH RULES IGNORED IN LAUNCH

Six intercity trains plied yesterday with about half the seats empty. Two other trains didn't operate because it was their weekly day off, said Aminul Hoque, Kamalapur station manager. Five of the trains left Dhaka for different destinations and another operatored between sylhet and Chattogram.

Eleven more express trains would be operational from tomorrow. They are: Teesta, Benapole, Nilsagar, Rupsha, Kapotakkho, Modhumoti, Meghna, Kishoreganj, Upakul, Brahmaputra, and Kurigram.

At Sadarghat Launch terminal, swarming crowds defied all rules yesterday as they gathered around noon. The absence of any Dhaka-Damudya launch made the situation worse, said an official of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.

"We had preparations to make people follow the health guidelines, but the huge number of passengers made it difficult," he said, wishing not to be named.

ACTION IF RULES IGNORED: QUADER

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the government will take tough steps if health guidelines are not followed and social distancing is not maintained in public transport, reports BSS.

"If people do not follow health guidelines and maintain social distancing...the government may make harsh decisions again."

Quader, also the Awami League general secretary, was talking to officials of the bridges division through a videoconference yesterday.

He urged transport owners and workers to abide by the government rules and "set a humanitarian example".

He urged the law enforcement agencies, vigilance teams, mobile courts and bus terminal authorities to strictly monitor the sector.

 

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