The development has left hundreds of people, who are travelling in violation of Covid safety rules, stranded at the terminals
Amid a mad rush of Eid holidaymakers, ferry services on busy Paturia-Daulatdia and Shimulia-Banglabazar routes were suspended on Saturday morning -- leaving thousands of people stranded on both sides of Padma River.
The sudden suspension caused immense sufferings to people on their way to their village homes ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays, violating government directives against inter-district travel.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) said the decision was taken in an attempt to curb the further spread of Covid-19 amid the ongoing second wave of the pandemic.
However, vessels carrying patients and goods will be allowed to cross the rivers, said BIWTC spokesperson Nazrul Islam, reports UNB.
He said: “Despite the suspension of speedboat and launch operations, thousands of home-bound people were seen crossing rivers on private vessels ignoring all health protocols.”
That’s why, following government directives, BIWTC has suspended the ferry services, he added. “But the goods-laden vessels can cross the rivers at night.”
However, disregarding the suspension order, six ferries were seen ferrying hundreds of passengers on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route, flouting Covid safety guidelines, reports our correspondent.
A BIWTC official at Shimulia terminal said: “The ferries left the Banglabazar ghat in the morning to transport emergency vehicles. People waiting on this side forcibly boarded them following their arrival.
“As they occupied the ferries to maximum capacity, the terminal authorities were forced to let them leave for Madaripur.”
Md Khorshed Alam, the BIWTC assistant manager at Daulatdia port, also said that ferry services were suspended following the Shipping Ministry’s order. "In case of an emergency, we can operate one or two ferries for crossing the river."
A huge rush of vehicles and commuters was witnessed on the Daulatdia-Paturia route over the past few days, especially on Friday, as people are heading homes, taking advantage of the two-day weekend.
Earlier, the government extended the ongoing restrictions on public movement and gathering, which had come into effect last month, till May 16 to contain the alarming surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
In line with the government directives, the movement of all long-route buses is suspended ahead of the upcoming Eid. Launch and train services will also remain suspended during the period.