‘Strictest lockdown’ eases up on 4th day
The nationwide 14-day "strictest lockdown" seemed to have loosened up on the fourth day, as public and vehicular movement increased on the roads in Dhaka and elsewhere yesterday.
Despite restrictions, hundreds of Eid holidaymakers continued to enter the capital through different entry points from their village homes, by changing different modes of transports.
Dhaka dwellers, mainly office-goers, faced difficulties on the road due to suspension of public transport, as banks and offices of stock exchange and several emergency services reopened amid the lockdown after Eid-ul-Azha holiday.
City streets witnessed crowds and more vehicles yesterday, compared to the previous three days.
In the morning, some office-goers were seen travelling by rickshaws, motorbikes and private cars. Many were seen walking long distances.
This correspondent visited Asad Gate, Farmgate, Mohakhali, Gulshan, Banani, Pragati Sarani, Panthapath, Mohammadpur, Shyamoli, Ring Road, Adabor, and Dhanmondi areas and found that the number of pedestrians, rickshaws, private cars and goods-carrying vehicles increased on the roads.
Ahsan Habib, an employee of a private bank who was going to Motijheel from Mohammadpur, said he struggled to get a vehicle. "Changing rickshaws three times, I reached office after a two-hour commute. It cost me Tk 450. How can we afford it for days on end?"
Visiting the by-lanes in Mohammadpur and Bhatara areas, our correspondent found some shops and tea stalls open.
Police, Rapid Action Battalion, Border Guard Bangladesh and army personnel were seen checking vehicles by setting up check-posts at important points.
But there was lax monitoring at some check-posts, where there were no law enforcers.
"We are checking randomly. During office hours, there was pressure of public and vehicular movement. If we check every vehicle, long tailbacks will be created on roads," said a traffic sergeant stationed near Bijoy Sarani.
Those out on the streets without valid reasons or failing to show documents of vehicles were being fined, he added.
Police in Dhaka yesterday detained 566 individuals for being outdoors without valid reasons.
Mobile courts fined 164 individuals and shops Tk 1.26 lakh, while Dhaka Metropolitan Police's traffic division fined 443 motorists Tk 10.21 lakh.
Rab conducted 180 patrols and set up 187 checkpoints across the country. Thirty-one mobile courts accompanied by Rab fined 264 people Tk 1.77 lakh, said a press release.
Amid rising cases of Covid-19, the government announced another lockdown -- which prohibited operation of trains, domestic flights, passenger vessels, and personal vehicles -- from Friday, after an eight-day break for Eid. There is, however, no restrictions on freight services.
The lockdown will end on August 5 midnight.
Despite the lockdown, holidaymakers were returning to the capital yesterday with luggage through entry points at Gabtoli, Tongi, Shanirakhra and Jatrabari.
They took detours and even walked to their destinations. Many of them faced police questioning.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people on motorcycles, cars and microbuses travelled across the Padma on ferries between Daulatdia and Paturia, and Bangla Bazar and Shimulia terminals.
Officials said the travellers were allowed to board the ferries on humanitarian grounds.
In Manikganj, there was a crowd on Daulatdia-Paturia ferry route. Physical distancing could not be maintained on the crowded ferries.
Passengers had to walk a long distance, as no public transport was available.
Goods-laden vehicles were seen waiting for long periods, as there was a significant number of private cars.
Farid Hossain from Gopalganj, who works at a private company in Dhaka, said his office is open, so he needed to come to Dhaka.
"It's very difficult to go to Dhaka in this lockdown, but I have to go. I had to come to the terminal by paying an exorbitant fare," he said.
Our Munshiganj correspondent reports that there was pressure of Dhaka-bound passengers at Bangla Bazar-Shimulia route yesterday.
Out of 19 ferries, seven were operating on the route.