A 12-seater microbus cannot possibly carry more than five to six passengers maintaining social distancing precautions. However, one such microbus was carrying 16 passengers from Daulatdia ferry ghat to Dhaka on Friday.
Fearing a police inspection, the driver of the microbus locked all the windows of the vehicle and drove at a high speed to Dhaka.
Sanowar Hossain, an employee of a garment factory in Savar, was one of the passengers on the microbus.
He said, "My factory opened on Wednesday. My employer told me over the phone that if I did not return to work immediately, I would lose my job. So, I got on different vehicles to come to Dhaka from Chuadanga."
Police did not stop any of the vehicles he rode during the journey, said Sanowar.
There were huge crowds at every entry point around Dhaka, as the general holidays over Covid-19 were not extended further. Thousands of people have been returning to the city on microbuses, pickup vans, and trucks to return to work after the Eid vacation.
Taking advantage of the Dhaka-bound people's rush, drivers were often carrying 18-20 passengers on nine-seater microbuses. Our local correspondents reported that police did not do anything to prevent the drivers from carrying extra passengers on their vehicles.
People from 21 districts enter Dhaka through the Daulatdia-Paturia ferry route. Seven ferries have been operating on that route since Friday morning to carry personal vehicles, ambulances, and goods-carrying trucks.
However, Dhaka-bound passengers were crossing the river on these ferries without maintaining social distancing or taking any health measures.
Abu Abdullah Rony, manager of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) Daulatdia ghat, said "The ferries are operating to carry emergency vehicles. However, now we cannot carry those vehicles properly due to a rush of general passengers."
"There is a huge number of passengers on every ferry. They are workers of different garment factories and private companies," said Rony.
Apparently, police were not very successful in enforcing social distancing rules at the Daulatdia and Goalanda ferry ghats due to overwhelming crowds.
Ashikur Rahman, officer in charge of Goalanda Ghat police station, said, "The pressure of passengers and small number of vehicles is immense at Daulatdia. Police are trying to ensure social distancing rules."
"A request has been sent to BIWTC to increase the number of ferries on these routes," he added.
Meanwhile, there was a long tailback of Dhaka-bound private cars at Mawa ghat on Friday.
Shakhawat, in charge of the police camp at the ghat, said there has been a huge rush of Dhaka-bound passengers at the ghat since Thursday morning. However, these passengers have been suffering due to a lack of vehicles.
"Travelling on rented vehicles is prohibited, but still some microbuses are carrying extra passengers. We seized 10 such vehicles on Friday," said Shakhawat.
In the last 24 hours till Friday afternoon, 17,000 trucks, pickup vans, private cars, microbuses and motorcycles entered Dhaka from the Northern region of the country via the Jamuna Bridge. Among these were 8,000 microbuses – most of which carried extra passengers.
People using this route were not maintaining social distancing measures as there was no police check post on the highway.
Kazi Ayubur Rahman, officer in charge of Bangabandhu Bridge East police station, said no police were deployed on the highway as the check post in the Bangabandhu Bridge area was withdrawn on the day before Eid-ul-Fitr.
Kanchpur in Narayanganj is another entry point to Dhaka. People were entering the city on microbuses and other small vehicles through this route.
Afzal Hossain, who came to Dhaka from Daudkandi, said he went to his village paying three times more than the usual fare for a microbus ride to spend the Eid holiday with his parents. Now he came back to Dhaka paying twice the fare he would pay in normal times.
Unlike most of the other entry points to the city, police were active on this route to enforce social distancing rules.
Sergeant Shamim, in-charge of the Signboard area police box, said, "As there is no public transportation operational on the roads, some private vehicles and microbuses are running on the Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka- Sylhet highways. We are checking these vehicles via three check posts."
Many people also returned to Gazipur on Friday, but they rarely followed safety rules.
Passengers returning to the city were seen waiting for transportation at Chandona Chowrasta, Mawna Chowrasta, Rajendrapur Chowrasta, Chandra, Kaliakair and other areas, but most of them were not following safety measures.
Although police in Gazipur were checking vehicles and slapping fines on those who were transporting passengers illegally, they had a difficult time controlling the situation.
Md Anowar Hossain, commissioner of Gazipur Metropolitan Police, said, "Drivers and car owners were warned not to transport passengers illegally. Despite that, heaps of people used those vehicles to return to Dhaka and Gazipur. This has caused accidents."