Extra pressure of holidaymakers seen on ferry terminals and highways
With only a few days remaining till Eid-ul-Fitr, people committed to spending the holidays with family members at their village homes continued leaving Dhaka on Monday, despite the unimaginable hassles and health risks.
Despite the suspension on the ferry routes amid lockdown, the rush of Eid holidaymakers increased at the Paturia and Shimulia ferry terminals since early morning.
Ferries assigned to take only emergency vehicles across the river were seen carrying private cars and commuters as well, disregarding the government’s travel restrictions.
Although several check posts had been set up at various points in the vicinity, commuters on auto-rickshaws, vans, and motorbikes among other private vehicles reached these two terminals that are the major gateways to 21 southern districts of the country.
Besides ambulances and hearses, regular people and vehicles also commuted on the Paturia-Daulatdia route.
Four small ferries, carrying ambulances, private cars and hundreds of passengers, are leaving the Paturia for Daulatdia every two hours.
“Although additional police have been deployed at the wharf, it hasn’t been enough to stop the huge swarms of commuters from boarding the ferries,” said Zillur Rahman, deputy general manager of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) Aricha office.
Shibaloy police station Officer in-Charge (OC) Firoz Kabir said the pressure of homebound passengers increased on Monday.
The news of ferries operating on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route drew massive crowds of homebound people at the Shimulia ferry terminal in Munshiganj this morning.
A total of 15 ferries plied on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route in the last 24 hours from 10am Sunday till 10am Monday, confirmed Shafiqul Islam, deputy general manager of BIWTC (Shimulia office).
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Passengers waiting at the wharf forcefully boarded these ferries with no regards for physical distancing or the rising number of Covid cases around the country and neighbouring India, he added.
The “Jamuna IT-395” was the last ferry to leave Shimulia for Banglabazar with about 3,000 passengers including several hearses and ambulance at around 10am.
Moreover, police detained six trawlers, including a boatman, for trying to cross the Padma River during the ongoing government-imposed travel ban to curb the spread of Covid-19, said Sirajul Kabir, in charge of Mawa Naval police outpost in Munshiganj.
Meanwhile, there was heavy traffic on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway since early morning due to the mad rush of homebound people heading for the northern districts.
According to the Bangabandhu Bridge Authority, a total of 31,899 vehicles crossed the bridge in 24 hours from 6am on Sunday till 6am on Monday.
Most of them were private vehicles and freight trucks, with a few hundred long-route buses.
The authorities collected over Tk2.2 crore in toll revenue in this period which was higher than usual.
Bangabandhu Bridge East Police Station OC Shafiqul Islam said, the number of vehicles on the highway were more than other days and police were working relentlessly in this regard.
A huge rush of homegoers has been witnessed over the past few days, especially on Friday, as people headed home the past few days.
Passengers have been paying extra fares for private vehicles as all intra-district public transport services fell suspended.
Meanwhile, the alarming coronavirus transmission surge in the country may get worse after Eid-ul-Fitr, warned Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) spokesman Nazmul Islam on Sunday.
Eid-ul-Fitr, the largest religious festival in the country is likely to be celebrated after four days.
However, the situation is different since last year as the global coronavirus pandemic continues to rattle the world, especially countries in South Asia of late.
Earlier, the government enforced the lockdown from April 6, which was later extended in several phases in the face of a surge in Covid-19 infections in the country.
Lastly, the lockdown was extended until May 16 as the second of the pandemic wave hit the country.