• Tuesday, Aug 04, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:12 pm

Coronavirus: Mad rush to villages despite govt call for no movement

  • Published at 11:13 pm March 24th, 2020

Some other bus companies were seen overcharging the large number of outgoing passengers by Tk50-100 each

A frantic rush to go home on Tuesday reached its peak after the government declared a 10 day shutdown on Monday in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) till on Tuesday confirmed a total of 39 coronavirus cases in the country.

Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus, so far has killed more than 16,500 people in over 190 countries and territories, including four from Bangladesh.

People, mostly students and low income groups, rushed to Dhaka's train, bus and launch stations in an effort to return to their ancestral district and village homes.

Many job holders who cannot leave the capital due to their professional responsibilities, were seen sending back other family members to their respective villages as all educational institutions have been ordered to remain closed till April 9.

Meanwhile, in a major development, the government on Tuesday suspended all bus, train, domestic air, and river transport services across the country to fight the deadly virus.

On a visit to the Gabtoli bus terminal, Dhaka Tribune saw scores of people waiting for tickets, despite many bus companies suspending their sales upon government directives.

Aminul Islam, one of the many unfortunate individuals who failed to secure a ticket, was planning to head home in Rangpur but his desired bus service shutdown their ticket sales by the time he reached the terminal. 

Kamrul Hasan of Mirpur, came to the terminal to get a ticket to Barisal but also failed as operations at the Paturia-Daulatdia ferry route have been suspended and Madaripur is under lockdown due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, some other bus companies were seen overcharging the large number of outgoing passengers by Tk50-100 each.

Md Aslam Ali, alias Alam, acting managing director of Hanif Paribahan told Dhaka Tribune that there is no shortage of buses, but the number of passengers heading out of Dhaka has been on the rise for the last 10 days.

"We are getting a huge number of passengers moving out of Dhaka but our buses are returning empty as no one is coming back," he said.

Alam said his bus company is supporting the outbound passengers and is also taking proper measures during the trips so that no one is infected by Covid-19.

Contacted, Mashiur Rahman Ranga, president of Bangladesh Transport Owners' Association, demanded proper government monitoring to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The prime minister's Principal Secretary, Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, on Tuesday said that the government declared holiday from March 26 to April 4 is meant to curb the spread of coronavirus, not for enjoyment.

He also urged citizens if they have to go out in case of an emergency, then they should use proper sanitization and take preventive measures accordingly.

Bus companies lack sanitizers, disinfectants 

During its visit, Dhaka Tribune also found that many bus companies were not offering hand sanitizers or disinfectants to passengers as well as their own staff members, disregarding the coronavirus crisis. 

Expressing concern, Khairul Islam, a driver for Siyam Paribahan, said they did not receive any sanitizers from their owners to combat the coronavirus.

"The overall situation is very bad and critical," said Bangladesh Passengers' Welfare Association (BPWA) Secretary-General, Mozammel Haque.

"There is no initiative by the authorities concerned to detect overseas returnees using the transport services here! It is not a good sign and for this the number of coronavirus patients might rise in Bangladesh. People are still acting careless regarding the issue," added Mozammel.

Dhaka a ghost town amid pandemic

Dhaka is gradually turning into a "ghost city" following the government declaration on suspension of all offices which will be in effect from tomorrow.

According to experts, the chances of Covid-19 spreading further is higher now as a large number of people is moving from one district to another amid the government ordered holidays.

Moreover, due to the lockdowns imposed in various parts of the country, low income people are suffering the most as their means of income to make ends meet are shrinking with every passing day.

Visiting several areas of Dhaka, our correspondents found many local grocery shops were closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, outlets of renowned super shops were open for business.

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