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Lockdown: People leave Dhaka in mad rush, defying virus scare

  • Published at 09:00 pm April 13th, 2021
Lockdown people on trucks
Due to public transportation being shut down on highways, thousands of people are leaving Dhaka in pickup vans and trucks prior to the lockdown. The photo was taken at Amin Bazar on April 13, 2021 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

No monitoring is done by the authorities

As the country is all set to undergo another spell of lockdown--now for seven days starting on Wednesday— a huge exodus of people from Dhaka for their respective village homes has been underway, with little attention to Covid-19 health norms. 

Other than the nationwide restriction, the start of Ramadan on Wednesday also propelled the mad rush of home-goers. 

Despite an embargo on all sorts of long distant public transports and for-hire vehicles, they are journeying home on trucks, microbuses, cars and motorbikes.

Dhaka Tribune visited several bus terminals, finding the situation chaotic as they had already become packed by 10am. Shockingly, nobody from the relevant authorities was seen monitoring an increasingly haphazard situation, which posed a serious threat to the already worst spell of Covid-19 in the country.

Many passengers said they feared the lockdown might be extended further, which was why they were leaving the capital in large numbers. 

Also read: Heavy traffic at Paturia, Shimulia ghat ahead of weeklong strict lockdown

Interestingly, a significant portion of the home-goers belonged to the working class as its scope for daily income has badly shrunk since the ongoing lockdown that came into effect on April 5.

Finding no other way to survive in an expensive megacity, they opted to return to their villages, where they could do something to make a living. 

Scores of microbuses and private cars queued up in front of the Mohakhali bus terminal to take on board the homebound passengers. 

Transport workers cashing in on situation 

Taking advantage of the crisis, transport workers have been charging passengers exorbitantly. On some routes the passengers were being forced to pay two to three times the normal fare. 

Many were seen paying Tk 800-Tk 1,000 individually to travel by microbus to Mymensingh and TK 1200 to go to Jamalpur and Sherpur.

When asked about the excessive fare, Siam Paribahan's helper Anisur Rahman said he would get a commission of up to Tk200 if he charged a higher amount. 

No wonder a similar picture was noticed at the Gabtoli and Sayedabad bus terminals. 

At the Sayedabad bus terminal, it was seen that people were pouring in to catch a ride home. Many were waiting for cars to travel to the districts, including Pirojpur, Noakhali, Khulna, Gopalganj, Chittagong, Comilla, Sylhet and Brahmanbaria. 

Sub-Inspector Md Shahjalal, in-charge of the Mohakhali bus terminal police outpost, said most of the passengers were leaving the terminal for a number of northern districts as well as Comilla, Noakhali and Chittagong. 

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