Workers keep toiling on way back to city
As export-oriented factories reopened yesterday with less than a 48-hour notice, workers had to travel miles on foot to reach Dhaka for a second consecutive day.
Even though the government allowed public conveyance to resume on the streets on Saturday evening – a whole day after declaring that factories can be reopened -- the move came as little respite to incoming factory workers, because enough transport just wasn't enough transport available.
In this mad dash, a 22-year-old garment worker named Md Abu Hasan died while trying to catch a moving bus.
The incident occurred on Bogura Sadar's Dhaka-Rangpur highway.
Hasan, a sewing operator at Mawna Fashion Limited, hailed from Panchbibi upazila of Joypurhat.
Upon hearing that factories are reopening, Hasan had started for the capital on foot on Saturday afternoon. By nightfall he had only managed to reach Bogura, his family told our correspondent.
The following morning, at 7:30am, Hasan was crossing the road to try and hail down a packed, moving bus. The very bus he was trying to get on ran over him, said Shishir Kumar Chakraborty, a sub-inspector of Sadar Police Station.
Hasan died on the spot.
The bus was seized but the driver and his helper managed to flee, the official said.
Highways, waterways and ferry routes yesterday witnessed a huge rush of workers from export-oriented factories, who were heading to their workplaces in Dhaka and adjacent areas.
Any scope for social distancing flew out the window, because the number of buses, launches and ferries were not enough for the amount of workers making their way back.
Many passengers were seen boarding trucks.
At the Shimuli-Banglabazar river route, every ferry and launch seemed to be overcrowded.
Thousands of people were seen waiting for their transport. Whenever a launch or ferry neared the jetty, throngs of people swooped upon it.
"I have come to Banglabazar ferry terminal from Barishal by hitching a ride on a motorbike. It cost me Tk 800. Then I had to wait at the terminal for hours to board a ferry," said Jahirul Islam, a resident of Barishal's Gournadi area, who works at a garment factory in the capital's Uttara.
"Now, I will have to look for another transport to go to Dhaka," he said to The Daily Star at Shimulia around 10:00am yesterday.
Contacted, Md Jamal Uddin, inspector of Banglabazar traffic police, said the ferries are only carrying human passengers since Saturday night.
"Vehicles were not being able to board because of the large volume of people taking over the ferries."
In Tangail, a 20-kilometer tailback was created from Bangabandhu Bridge's eastern part to Tangail By-Pass Road area yesterday morning.
The situation worsened as the day grew, said Yasir Arafar, in-charge of Elenga Highway Police Outpost.
Additional law enforcers were deployed for traffic management, he said, adding that the situation improved at afternoon.
In Sirajganj, a 22-kilometer tailback was created from Hatikumrul to Bangabandhu Bridge's western point due to an excessive rush of vehicles.
The reason such a tailback has been created is that vehicles are moving slowly, said Md Shajahan Ali, officer-in-charge of Hatikumrul Highway Police Station.
In Pabna, a huge number of passengers descended upon Kazirhaat ferry ghat. It is from this point that passengers travel to Aricha of Manikganj through ferries. Then, they try to catch Dhaka-bound vehicles.
In Gazipur, all sorts of public transport were seen plying all day long, defying the government's directives to stop after noon.
As garments factories were reopened, adjacent tea stalls, makeshift restaurants and other small shops were seen to start operation as well.
Workers were seen queued up to enter factories in the morning, though many of them were not wear masks or maintaining any social distance.
At least 19 launches left the districts of Barishal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barguna, Pirojpur and Jhalakathi yesterday. They were heading towards Dhaka and all the launches were packed to the brim.
However, these launches were too few and far in between.
"I tried for several times to board multiple launches. But I failed due to the crowd," Ruma Begum, a female garment worker, headed to the capital, told The Daily Star at Bhola river port yesterday afternoon.
(Our correspondents from respective districts contributed to the report.)