Still they trudge back to work
Workers of export-oriented factories yesterday braved untold sufferings as they headed towards their workplaces in Dhaka and adjacent areas for the third consecutive day.
As public transport operations remain suspended, people took trucks, pick-ups, motorcycles, rickshaw-vans, private cars and auto-rickshaws, while also having to pay additional fare.
Many of them were seen without masks and not maintaining social distancing.
The workers' rush began on Saturday after the government, the day before, issued a circular saying export-oriented industries, including garment factories, will be out of the purview of the ongoing 14-day lockdown.
After the announcement, thousands of workers thronged the highways and waterways to return to their workplaces.
Yesterday, one of the major ferry routes of the country -- from Shimulia of Munshiganj to Banglabazar of Madaripur -- witnessed a huge rush of people.
Although the government allowed passenger launches to operate till 6:00am yesterday, at least 60 launches plied this route till around 12:00pm. Besides, nine ferries plied in-rotation all day long.
All launches and ferries were filled to the brim with passengers. Many were seen travelling without following any health safety guidelines.
After crossing the Padma, they faced a shortage of vehicles and many had to share trips on CNG-run auto-rickshaws, motorbikes, pick-ups and trucks.
"I have been trying to go to Dhaka over the last two days but went back home seeing the huge crowd and rush. I seem to have no option to go to my workplace today," said Md Shaon Hossain, a resident of Madaripur's Shibchar upazila who works at a shopping bag-producing factory in the capital's Basabo area.
Speaking to The Daily Star from Shimulia terminal yesterday morning, he said, "Now [with no other mode of transport], I have to pay a higher sum to travel on auto-rickshaws or motorbikes."
Both Paturia and Aricha terminals were crowded with workers desperately looking for transport to return to the capital over the past three days.
"I work at a garment factory in Savar. Our factory officials yesterday [Sunday] called me over phone and asked me to join by today," said Rahima Begum, a resident of Faridpur's Alfadanga upazila.
She was talking to The Daily Star at the Paturia ferry terminal around 9:30am yesterday.
Along with passengers, a large number of private cars were crossing the Padma on ferries, said Md Zillur Rahman, deputy general manager (DGM-Commerce) of BIWTC's Aricha regional office.
Meanwhile in Gazipur, garment workers blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway to protest the shortage of transport and the additional fare charged by available transport operators.
They blocked the highway in No.2 C and B areas in Gazipur's Sreepur upazila from around 7:00 to 9:00am, causing a gridlock on the highway.
(Our correspondents from Munshiganj, Manikganj and Gazipur contributed to the report.)