Passengers claimed that they were forced to return to their village homes by the new lockdown starting from Wednesday
As the week-long strict lockdown was set to begin in the country, thousands of people were seen rushing back home at Paturia and Shimulia ferry terminals in the country.
Over 700 vehicles carrying passengers and goods have been stuck in a tailback at the Paturia ferry terminal since Tuesday morning.
A large number of private cars, microbuses and CNG-run auto-rickshaws were seen rushing to the terminal from Dhaka and adjacent areas through the Dhaka-Patuaria Highway, with thousands of people leaving Dhaka in defiance of health safety rules related to Covid.
Drivers and passengers of the light vehicles said they had to wait for hours at the Paturia terminal to board a ferry and cross the river.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Zillur Rahman, deputy general manager of the Aricha office, said: “The terminal has been experiencing a heavy rush since the government announced the strict lockdown from Wednesday.”
“Although passenger buses have not been operating due to the ongoing lockdown, there is an additional pressure of private cars and microbuses at the ferry terminal.
“We are currently operating 16 ferries to transport passenger vehicles across the river on a priority basis. This is causing a tailback of goods-laden trucks.”
Passengers claimed that they were forced to return to their village homes as a result of the strict lockdown announcement.
Long queues of vehicles at Shimulia ghat
Goods-laden vehicles, private cars and other vehicles were stuck due to 2.5km-long tailback from Mawa Bridge to Shimulia Ghat on Tuesday morning.
Many were seen walking along the road with their families to return home.
Moreover, trawlers were overcrowded with homebound people as launch and speedboat services remained suspended.
According to the Shimulia Ferry Terminal Authority, people in 21 districts in the southern part of the country use the ferry terminal. To handle the extra pressure, passengers and vehicles were being transported on 15 ferries.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Shimulia Ghat Manager Saidul Islam told Dhaka Tribune that the situation had been the same since the morning. “Today's [Tuesday] situation is worse than that of the last few days. We doubt that this [traffic] will be cleared by tomorrow [Wednesday] morning.”
He said the announcement of the lockdown coupled with the start of Ramadan was behind the huge crowds at Shimulia Ghat on Tuesday.
Shimulia Ferry Ghat Traffic Police Inspector Md Hilal Uddin said the situation was the same as it had been in the last few days.
There was a lack of awareness among people, he said.