Curbs toughen to delink Dhaka
Dhaka has been virtually cut off from the rest of the country following the suspension of all inter-district transports -- road, rail and waterway -- to stem the surge in Covid infections and deaths.
The latest restrictions were imposed yesterday, a day after the government enforced lockdown in seven districts around Dhaka.
Bangladesh Railway suspended all passenger trains from Dhaka to other parts of the country from 12:01am today, said Sardar Shahadat Ali, additional director general (operations) of the BR.
However, passenger trains between other districts and cities would run as usual, he told The Daily Star yesterday.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) also suspended operation of all launches to and from Dhaka.
"We have taken the measures in line with the directives of the higher authorities," said Zainal Abedin, joint director of BIWTA.
In reply to a query, he said some passengers, unaware of the restrictions, went to Sadarghat Launch Terminal to go to different destinations yesterday. They returned home after learning about the curbs.
Flight operations on different routes from the capital will continue as usual.
"It is up to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh to decide on the matter. We have not yet got any instructions from it," Biman Deputy General Manager (public relations) Tahera Khandakar told this newspaper.
Meanwhile, the nine-day restrictions on public and vehicular movement came into effect in seven districts surrounding Dhaka from 6:00am yesterday.
The law enforcement agencies strictly enforced the restrictions, preventing vehicles from entering the capital.
There were traffic congestions from Hemayetpur to Gabtoli and from Abdullapur to Tongi intersection as police intercepted vehicles at the entry points to the capital and compelled those to make U-turn, report our correspondents.
Many were seen walking to their destinations in the rain.
Contacted, Suvenkar Ghosh, joint secretary of Bangladesh Bus Truck Owners' Association, said the operation of long-haul buses was suspended as per the government instructions.
"As the directives came quite late on Monday night, many drivers and commuters were not aware of those. And a number of Dhaka-bound vehicles had been barred by law enforcers at several points from entering Dhaka," Suvenkar said.
No vehicles without emergency reasons were allowed to enter Dhaka through the seven districts yesterday, causing sufferings to many commuters, including office-goers who come to the capital from the surrounding districts.
Earlier on Monday, the government imposed restrictions on public and vehicular movement across Manikganj, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Gazipur, Madaripur, Rajbari and Gopalganj till June 30, taking into account the deteriorating Covid situation in those districts.
These districts are supposed to be completely cut off from the rest of the country and nobody is allowed to enter or exit those except for emergency reasons, according to the directives from the Cabinet Division.
However, many commuters were seen avoiding the check posts on highways. They took rickshaws or auto-rickshaws and also rented motorbikes to reach their destinations through alternative routes.
A number of them said they had to spend extra money to go to their workplaces as public transport was suspended, reports our correspondents from these districts.
Some of them said they had to change vehicles multiple times and even walk to their workplaces.
Markets and shops, except for medical stores, were mostly shut in these districts.
Many people, however, were seen flouting the health safety rules.
No vehicles other than ambulances and those used for emergency services were allowed to use ferries on three routes in Munshiganj and Manikganj.
Some commuters, however, forcibly boarded ferries at Shimulia terminal in Munshiganj to reach the capital.
"There are check points on highways. I came to my village to cast vote in the union parishad election. Now I am returning to the capital as I have to join work. I thought that the enforcement of the restrictions would be lax as in the past. But it's different this time," Md Alamin Hossain, employee of a private firm, told this newspaper at Shimulia ferry terminal yesterday.
Like him, many turned up at the ferry terminal and the number continued to grow till yesterday afternoon.
As the chances of boarding ferries were slim, many opted to hire trawlers from Banglabazar to Shimulia, reports our Munshiganj correspondent.
Asked, Sumon Dev, additional superintendent of police in Munshiganj, said, "We have set up check posts at different points in the district. We are trying our best to enforce the restrictions."
In Narayanganj, the enforcement of the latest restrictions was apparently slack till noon.
Though buses were kept off the roads, rickshaws, autorickshaws and private cars were spotted in the streets.
Members of law enforcement agencies swung into action in the afternoon and were seen patrolling the city streets.
Talking to this newspaper, Mustain Billah, deputy commissioner of the district, said,
"We have shut inter-district public transport services. Only a few small vehicles are plying the roads in the city.
"The shops that were opened defying the restrictions have been sealed off. We have taken similar measures in other areas too."