Despite a high risk of contracting Covid-19, Dhaka people thronged bus terminals and ferry ghats to go to their home districts on Saturday ahead of Eid-ul-Adha.
Yesterday, the rush of homebound passengers was a little less compared to Thursday and Friday, but passengers still had to pay extra fare and suffer in huge traffic congestions amid severe heat.
"In the last two days, a bus departed every 15 minute from the Syedabad Bus Terminal due to the pressure of passengers. Today the pressure is little less, but we have no unsold tickets for 19 to 21 July," Md Ikbal, counter master of Hanif Paribahan, told The Business Standard yesterday.
"The situation is the same in other big bus terminals like Gabtoli and Mohakhali too," he added.
"We can carry passengers at only 50% of a bus' capacity. Carrying fewer passengers than the vehicle's capacity is making the pressure bigger. We have also hiked the fare 60% which is a burden on the passengers," said Ikbal.
However, some transport service providers were charging the passengers more than double than the usual fare. Earlier, the bus fare from Jatrabari to Mawa was Tk70, but currently it has increased to Tk150.
A passenger named Md Alamgir Hossain said, "I have to go home as my family lives there. The buses are charging extra even after hiking the ticket price 60%. However, they take extra fare during every Eid and there is no one to watch. What else can I do? I have to go home, so I am spending twice as much as the usual amount."
Another passenger Sohrab Hossain, a private employee, said he was worried about returning to Dhaka after Eid.
"I must be in office on 23 July. Otherwise there will be a problem. But still I am going home as I do not want to miss the chance to spend time with my family during the Eid vacation," said Sohrab.
The massive number of people leaving the capital choked the roads and created long tailbacks at the entry and exit points of Dhaka and the launch and ferry ghats in Shimulia, Aricha and Paturia.
Passengers heading toward the southern districts started arriving at the ferry ghats in Shimulia in the morning to cross the Padma River. The passengers ignored the social distancing measures, while the launches carried passengers at more than the 50% of their capacity, violating the government instructions, said sources.
Sirajul Kabir, officer-in-charge of Mawa Naval Police Station, said, "The crowd is huge. We are trying our best to ensure that the launches pick up passengers as per the rules."
Due to the increase in the number of public transport and private vehicles, it got harder to carry the vehicles across the river on ferries.
Yesterday, there was about a 7km long line of good-laden trucks, and over 600 private cars on the Dhaka-Mawa expressway leading towards Shimulia ghat.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority's (BIWTA) Shimulia Ghat Assistant General Manager Shafiqul Islam said, "There are currently 13 ferries plying the route. There are more than 500 vehicles carrying passengers and goods waiting at the ghat area".
A similar situation was observed in Aricha and Paturia ferry ghats. The authorities there were carrying the passenger buses and small vehicles across the river on a priority basis to reduce the suffering of holidaymakers.
As a result good-laden trucks were forced to wait for hours before they could cross the river on ferries.
Hundreds of light vehicles, 40-50 passenger buses and more than 500 good-laden trucks were waiting at the Paturia ferry terminal to cross the route yesterday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the ferry authorities reportedly allowed the trucks carrying emergency goods as per the normal schedule.
BIWTC Aricha Office Deputy General Manager Zillur Rahman said, "The decision to prioritise private cars and passenger buses on ferries was taken to reduce the commuters' sufferings."
"Regular truck drivers are suffering a bit because of it. However, the pressure of homebound passengers is still under control," he added.
Meanwhile, there was huge traffic congestion of around 25 kilometers on both sides of Bangabandhu Bridge across the Jamuna River.