The Bangladesh Railway started selling advance train tickets for Eid on 23 April – 50% of the tickets are available online and the remaining are at the counter – but all online tickets were sold out within the first five minutes on Monday, claims Sahaj.com which has been assigned to sell train tickets online.
Many complained they could not get the ticket even after logging in in the first minute. Getting no ticket at the counter, people crowded at five railway stations in Dhaka, including Kamalapur Railway Station, but most of them did not get the desired ticket even after standing in line for 2-3 days.
Abdul Baset was standing in a queue at Kamalapur from 8pm Sunday to 8am Monday to buy a Dhaka-Panchagarh ticket. He also tried to get an online ticket. Unfortunately, he did not get a ticket.
"Who got the online tickets? The online sale was supposed to start at 8am and I had all preparations. But after logging in to the server, I found all tickets were sold," he added.
Shamsuddin, who also could not buy a ticket online, told TBS, "I tried my best to buy a ticket using my mobile, computer and laptop but could not get one."
Sahaj.com Public Relations Department Manager Farhat Ahmed claimed that their server was not down for even a minute since 23 April. About 18 lakh users hit the website at the very first minute on Monday. Of them, the first 13,000 were supposed to buy Eid tickets.
"At least five lakh users hit our website at the first minute of the first day, 10 lakh at the first minute of the second day. All tickets were sold within the first five minutes on the first day," he added.
Banker Md Shahidul Islam, who stood in the queue for two days, said, "There were 100 people ahead of him in the queue. After 70-80 got tickets, authorities informed them that all tickets were sold."
Shantona Moriom, a Trust Bank official, went to Kamlapur Railway Station at dawn on Monday. She waited till noon but could not get a ticket.
"When I reached the station at dawn, there were 150 women in the queue in front of me. Many of them were there for two days. There was not a single fan for such a huge crowd. I saw at least three women fainted due to the hot weather," she added.
At the Kamalapur Railway Station, there were only two dedicated counters for women, which is not at all adequate compared to the crowd.
Sharmin Sultana waited for 12 hours for one ticket whereas she needed four.
"The authorities should have increased the lines for women as it is too hot and there is no fan here. I wanted to buy a ticket for a cabin for my four-member family but I have got only one ticket. Four of us have to travel with one ticket," she added.
However, the situation was not favourable for day labourer Makbul Hossain who would like to go to Rangpur to celebrate Eid. He was in the queue since Sunday but did not get any tickets on Monday. Now, he is in the Tuesday queue for a ticket. He also brought a mat for sleeping.
"I have to pay Tk1,800 per person to go to Rangpur by a bus while the train fare is only Tk440 which a poor like me cannot afford. So, I have no other way to embrace the sufferings," he added.
At the station, some people were giving queue proxy in exchange for Tk500-Tk1,000.
On the overall issue, Kamalapur Railway Station Manager Mohammad Masud Sarwar told TBS that about 56,000 people buy tickets every day, including about 27,000 advance tickets for Eid.
Meanwhile, despite the suffering of the people, Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said, "If anyone is standing in line today for tomorrow's ticket, what we can do? No one complained today."
The minister inspected the latest situation of advance train ticketing at Kamalapur on Monday.
"To buy a ticket, you need a NID card. How anyone else can can buy your ticket?" he said.