Additional police force has been deployed on the highways and river terminals to manage the huge crowds
Thousands of people have been crowding the Kathalbari, Shimulia and Daulatdia river terminals to return to the capital, in total disregard of social distancing and other health directives amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Making matters worse is that desperate crowds are also using private vehicles and even walking their way in through different areas of Savar and Ashulia to enter the capital.
Law enforcement agency sources said they were only permitting people to cross terminals and highways in case of emergencies. But for their part, passengers said they were able to use the highways by bribing law enforcers at several points.
Overcrowded private cars, three-wheelers, trucks, motorcycles and river ferries may lead to severe accidents and cause an even bigger disaster by spreading coronavirus among large sections of people.
People and vehicles were seen thronging the river terminals as well, while several overcrowded ferries were crossing the rivers, report our correspondents.
In Kathalbari, the river terminal was overcrowded with more people than passenger vehicles, ambulances and privately-owned cars. Since Thursday morning, at least 12 ferries were operating at regular intervals to transport huge numbers of people to Dhaka.
The passengers are mostly job holders who are taking additional risks and spending money to cross the river through the terminals, said Sohag, a Dhaka-bound passenger of a private car.
Additional numbers of policemen have been deployed to manage the huge crowds at the terminal, while most public transport vehicles waiting to cross the river were being refused permission to do so, said Madaripur ASP Md Moniruzzaman.
In Munshiganj, thousands of people and over 300 vehicles from 21 districts of the country were observed waiting to cross the river through the Shimulia river terminal since Thursday morning.
Around 10 ferries had completed 20 trips through the terminal till the filing of this report on Thursday, while over 600 vehicles had crossed the river so far, said BIWTC Assistant Manager Md Foisal.
In Rajbari, at least seven ferries were operating at the Daulatdia-Paturia terminal since Thursday morning, carrying hundreds of people and vehicles, while hundreds more waited at the riverside, confirmed Md Abdul Rony, Manager of the BIWTC terminal, Md Abdul Rony.
“We have deployed several teams of police at the terminal to ensure that health and safety protocols are followed by the passengers,” said Goalanda Ghat police station OC Ashiqur Rahman.
Our correspondents Monjur Hossain, Madaripur; Tanjil Hasan Munshiganj; Kazi Tanvir Mahmud, Rajbari, Nadim Hossain, Savar and Liakat Ali Badal contributed to the report.