Countrywide fresh lockdown begins: Holidaymakers suffer in return journeys
Holidaymakers who went to their village homes before Eid, suffered immensely on their return to Dhaka yesterday, the first day of the 14-day "strict lockdown" as no means of commuting, except rickshaws, were available.
The fresh lockdown was put in effect at 6:00am yesterday, banning operations of trains, domestic flights, river traffic, and personal vehicles. There was no restriction on freight services.
Hundreds of people, including women, children and the elderly, were seen walking long distances with their bags on the streets of the capital yesterday.
Seventy-year-old Hosne Ara Begum boarded a launch in Barishal around 10:00pm on Thursday and reached Sadarghat around 6:00am yesterday.
She started walking with three large bags after finding no vehicle at the launch terminal. Her destination is in Gazipur.
"How would I go that far without a vehicle?" she asked.
Shahidul Alam, officer-in-charge of Sadarghat River Police, said people were forced to walk from the terminal with heavy bags because there were only a few vehicles to carry them.
Some rickshaw-pullers were asking for Tk 1000-1,200 to go from Sadarghat to Mirpur and Tk 1,500 to go to the Airport area. In the Gabtoli terminal, they were seen asking for Tk 600-700 to take people to Bangshal.
In Tongi, Aminbazar, Babubazar and Postogola, hundreds of people got off the buses and failed to find any means of travelling towards the city.
"We suffered when we went home in Thakurgaon. And we are suffering now," said Jannat Ara, 50, who was walking in Aminbazar and looking for a vehicle to go to Narayanganj.
Before 9:00am, a few buses were allowed to enter the capital. But they were completely barred as the day progressed.
In Gabtoli and Aminbazar, police stopped a large number of private vehicles and rented cars and denied most of their entry to the capital.
Meanwhile, people on motorcycles, cars and microbuses travelled across the Padma on ferries between Daulatdia and Paturia and Bangla Bazar and Shimulia terminals. But the ferries could hardly keep up with the number of people and vehicles that kept arriving in the terminals. Many had to wait for hours before they managed to get on a ferry.
Yasmin, who travelled from Meherpur, told The Daily Star that she and her two children reached Daulatdia around midnight on Thursday and waited at the terminal until the next morning to get on a ferry.
Sadi Mohammad, another traveller, said, "I work for a private firm. The employer told me to come back if I wanted to save my job."
Tania Sultana, additional superintendent of police (Shibalaya circle), said, "Vehicles have been stuck at Daulatdia since last night. They were allowed to cross the river on humanitarian grounds."
Our Munshiganj correspondent reports that the picture was similar in Banglabazar and Shimulia.
According to the Traffic Control Room of Bangabandhu Bridge, vehicles including buses went across the bridge until 9:00am, reports our Tangail correspondent.
Streets in the capital's Farmgate, Shahbagh, Panthapath, Mohammadpur, Shyamoli, Ring Road, Adabor, and Dhanmondi areas were almost empty yesterday.
The picture was similar in Sylhet, Barishal, Chattogram, Rangpur, Dinajpur and Rajshahi cities, reports our correspondents.
Rab, Border Guard Bangladesh and army personnel were deployed to enforce the lockdown.
Police detained 403 individuals for being outdoors in Dhaka yesterday.
Mobile courts fined 203 individuals and shops Tk 1.27 lakh while DMP's traffic division fined 441 motorists Tk 10.60 lakh.