Ticket seller Ahsan Uddin Swapan sat idly at Razib Enterprise’s ticket counter on Saturday
People have started leaving the capital in scores, for towns, cities, and villages, to celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr with their near and dear ones. But the Eid rush is significantly less this season, four to five days ahead of the festival.
Ticket seller Ahsan Uddin Swapan sat idly at Razib Enterprise’s ticket counter on Saturday. He was looking for passengers headed for Jamalpur, and other north-eastern districts of Bangladesh.
Razib Enterprise buses depart from Mohakhali inter-district bus terminal every 23 minutes. The next bus was scheduled to depart in 14 minutes, but Swapan failed to sell a single ticket.
The Mohakhali bus terminal, around 12pm on Saturday, was not a bustling affair. During the visit, this correspondent found only a handful of passengers lined up at the counters.
Many buses were seen rolling out with a low turnout of passengers, quite unusual for this time of the season.
Md Masud was selling tickets for Ovi Enterprise. He was doing comparatively better, as he just sold four tickets for Sirajganj, 10 minutes prior to the departure of the next bus.
“From Thursday, we have been selling 20 to 25 tickets for each trip. But today is a dull day,” he said on Saturday.
“We are incurring a loss per trip of Tk2,000, on an average,” he added.
But he hoped that the number of passengers will increase tomorrow (June 3), when the garments close.
Ena Transport buses have a fair share of passengers round the year. But before Eid, they are also suffering from lack of passengers.
Ena Transport’s Mohakhali counter Manager Jasimuddin told Dhaka Tribune that they had to cancel one trip in the day – bound for Sylhet and eastern parts of Bangladesh – due to lack of passengers. On Friday, they had to cancel 3.
“We have 40-seater buses leaving for Sylhet with 10 to 15 vacant seats. However, the advance tickets for Sunamganj and Beanibazar are sold out,” he said.
“But all advance tickets for May 3 [tomorrow], are sold out,” he said.
On the other hand, tickets for northern districts have been sold out, Jasimuddin added.
Traffic jam comparatively less
Buses headed towards northern, eastern, and south-eastern districts of Bangladesh reach their destinations as per the scheduled time. But buses set out for Mymensingh, Sherpur, Kishoreganj, and Jamalpur are taking longer than usual, due to traffic on Dhaka-Gazipur road, said drivers of these routes.
Sagor, a transport worker headed for Tangail, said: “We reach Tangail on [scheduled] time. Also, there are less traffic jams on the highway.”
But Al Mamun, driver of Soukhin Paribahan – bound for Mymensingh – said that it takes almost four to five hours to reach Mymensingh from Dhaka.
Passengers of established transport companies have little to no complaint. But passengers of not-so-popular bus companies have their fair share of complaints.
Abdul Kader went to buy an advanced ticket for tomorrow for Naogaon district. Since all the tickets were sold out, he decided instead to leave Dhaka yesterday.
He alleged that despite the fare being Tk400, he had to pay Tk500 a ticket.
Razu Ahmed regularly travels from Bogra to Dhaka for business. He had to buy tickets for Tk500 which generally costs Tk350.
But it is comparatively cheaper than last year’s ticket, he said. “Last Eid, I had to pay Tk1200 for a ticket. Compared to that, this time is better.”
Having a longer vacation this year, many government, and private job holders went home already.
Many will travel the day before Eid, but have already sent their families home.
Transport officials hope for more passengers when the garment workers – working in Dhaka and Gazipur – get their holidays.