Almost a regular traffic rush clogs Shyamoli roads, police wrestle with vehicles at signals, residents hang out at local tea stalls, people stream into Dhaka at the entry points, and some shops pull up their shutters. These were some of the snapshots of the ongoing virus curb enforcement on the 13th day on Wednesday.
"With heavy traffic pressure today, in no way does it look as if a lockdown is going on. We are struggling to keep the vehicles moving," said an on-duty traffic policeman adjacent to the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (NITOR), widely known as Pongu Hospital.
With a runaway Covid-19 infection rate, the government earlier imposed a 14-day nationwide movement curbs, dubbed the "strictest lockdown". But more and more vehicles hit the roads as the government relaxed the lockdown enforcement after allowing a reopening of factories on 1 August.
The virus-related curbs were extended on Tuesday to 10 August to contain the virus spread.
But huge numbers of cars, motorcycles, CNG-run auto-rickshaws, trucks and non-motorised rickshaws were plying the streets of the capital on Wednesday – prompting frequent traffic congestions at the key points. At the same time, some shops pulled up their shutters, meaning they are back in business though they are supposed to be closed until 11 August.
There were fewer police checkpoints, and law enforcers were less active as well.
"There is more traffic today," said Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Traffic Sergeant Mohammad Tuhin at the College Gate area. He, however, said the traffic rush was still normal since the factory reopening had forced many people to come out of their homes.
"We are not stopping the vehicles inside the city now. But checkpoints at the entry and exit points are controlling vehicular movement strictly," he claimed.
Traffic Sergeant Mohammad Asad at Dhaka's Gabtoli entry point said more people were streaming into the capital on Wednesday. "Some are riding in on motorcycles, cars and micro-buses. But the number of people walking in the city is huge."
Asad said the police were filing cases against people trying to enter the capital without valid reasons. Besides, police were checking vehicles at the entry points before allowing them in.
People making their way into the capital on foot were mostly readymade garment workers. They said they reached the entry points from the country's southern districts by changing vehicles multiple times.
"The factory reopened on 1 August, and I was told to join on 6 August. So I had to come," said garment worker Arif.
There are half a dozen tea stalls at Baten Nagar residential area in Dhaka's Mirpur-1. All of them were wide open Wednesday. Business was as usual as people were found sipping tea, conversing and watching television there.