People still trying to leave Dhaka defying restrictions

Dhaka, May 9 : Many people are still making frantic efforts to leave Dhaka to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with their families in villages defying a ban on inter-district public transport due to the worsening Covid-19 situation.Eid-ul-Fitr, the largest religious festival of the Muslims, is scheduled to be celebrated across the country later this week. Thousands of people started to leave the city from early in the morning on Sunday.
Witnesses said a large number of people were seen crossing Tongi Bridge from Abdullahpur of Uttara, Amin Bazar Bridge from Gabtoli, Postagola Burigonga bridge of Shympur and Babu Bazar Burigonga Bridge on foot.
The government has imposed lockdown restrictions since April due to an increase in the coronavirus infection. Even though long-distance buses are shut, people are travelling to villages in any way they can.
The number of ferries has been reduced at Mawa and Paturia terminals and BGB members have been deployed there to prevent people from crossing the Padma.
Despite the government’s effort, people are continuing to rush to northern and southern districts from Dhaka on small vehicles ignoring health risks.
Ferry services were closed during the day.
Witnesses said people are using microbuses, private cars, auto-rickshaws, peddled vans, motorcycles and other vehicles to reach Mawa and Paturia ferry terminals.
People, desperate to go home hopped on any vehicle they could to reach their destinations from Tongi Bazar and Jatrabari as well.
Traffic Inspector Shahidur Rahman, on-duty near Babu Bazar Bridge, said it is impossible to stop people walking towards their village homes. A number of people told us that they will go home and then offer Shab-e-Qadr prayers.
“We aren’t obstructing them on humanitarian grounds,” he said.
Putting lives at risk
Bangladesh saw a spurt in coronavirus infections and deaths last months which showed a downward trend this month but the situation is still volatile. With an indifferent attitude towards following health rules and the presence of various variants of the virus, the country could see another upsurge in cases in the coming days.
The steady stream of people heading towards home threatens to roll back the progress made in containing the virus.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged everyone to exercise caution as the new variant of coronavirus ravages neighbouring India.
She criticised people for their desperate bid to go to their village homes defying all the restrictions at this critical time of the pandemic. She said celebrating this Eid where they are will help save all from coronavirus infections.
“All are travelling together in ferries and other vehicles. You don’t know who’s infected with coronavirus. You’re carrying that virus to your family members. You’re going to infect them, too. You’re going to put their lives in danger as well,” she said, reports UNB.