Rickshaws, CNG-run auto-rickshaws and private cars dominate streets of Dhaka and Chittagong
Dhaka as well as other major cities of the country saw a higher number of vehicles operating with an increased movement of people on the streets on day two of the weeklong strict lockdown Thursday.
The law enforcers were seen working tirelessly to ensure that the lockdown is properly enforced and the people abide by the Covid health safety guidelines while discharging duty at the key checkpoints in Dhaka and elsewhere.
Police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members questioned the people why they had come out of their homes. Those failing to show the “movement pass” or any valid reason were fined.
RAB-3 Executive Magistrate Palash Kumar Basu fined at least 15 people a total of Tk7,000 at Shahbagh intersection for being outside without a valid reason and not wearing masks.
Although the government imposed fresh restrictions on public movement and overall activities with an announcement of the closure of all government and non-government offices for eight days from April 14, to contain the spread of Covid-19, some institutions and organizations are out of the purview of the ban.
Rickshaws along with CNG-run auto-rickshaws and private cars were seen dominating the streets of Dhaka and Chittagong. Long queues of vehicles were seen in front of a number of checkpoints.
In the morning, traffic jam was observed in front of Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden Hotel. Meanwhile, police checkpoints in Farmgate, Pragati Sarani, Motijheel, Mirpur Road area, and several intersections in Chittagong also saw traffic congestions due to the increased vehicular movement.
However, the restrictions were not enforced strictly in many alleys across the capital where people kept on going outside to buy daily necessities from local shops and rickshaw vans during the day.
316,000 movement passes issued
Police have issued 316,801 movement passes for those who need to go outside during the lockdown started on Wednesday.
A total of 400,977 people had signed up for the pass until Thursday morning and around 14,026 applications were being submitted every minute at one point, according to figures provided by the Police Headquarters.
Meanwhile, the website had 159,922,085 visitors between 11am on Tuesday and 9am on Thursday, said Assistant Inspector General (media) Md Sohel Rana at the Police Headquarters.
Amid the tight lockdown restrictions, some physicians, who are considered as the key Covid frontliners, took it to social media platforms to share their stories of getting reportedly harassed by the law enforcers on their way to and from work.
Foundation for Doctors Safety Rights and Responsibilities (FDRS) Joint Secretary General Rahat Anwar Chowdhury, while speaking to media, said that it was very important to make transport arrangements for the doctors during the lockdown.
Square Hospital Covid unit doctor Nazmul Haque, who was fined Tk3,000 by the police for being outside on Wednesday, has been exempted from paying the sum.
Contacted, Mohammad Jahangir Hossain, joint commissioner of traffic police, said: "We have decided to waive the Tk3,000 fine considering overall situation. But he has to come to the traffic office and solve the matter.”
Besides, a number of journalists, who are also identified as frontline workers, claimed that they had also been harassed by the police while carrying out duties.
Jibon Ahmed, photojournalist of Bangla daily Manab Zamin, alleged that he had been fined Tk4,000 at a police checkpoint in Agargaon area when he was on duty Wednesday.
List of people not needing a pass updated
In the wake of controversy and misunderstanding created between the police and the general people regarding who to carry the movement passes, the Police Headquarters Thursday issued a notification.
The new list consists of a list of people who would not need the special pass during the lockdown. They will be able to go outside showing their identity cards.
They are doctors, nurses, and other medical staffs; individuals or staff involved in Covid-19 vaccination or treatment; bankers and bank staffs; journalists and camerapersons; telephone or internet service workers; private security guards; officers or employees involved in emergency services; office-going government officials; workers or officials of industrial mills or garment factories; personnel of law enforcement agencies, Fire Service and Civil Defence, and postal service; individuals or officials who work for utility services (water, gas, power and fuel); and individuals or officials who work at ports.