The government’s directives on maintaining social distancing and health guidelines are largely being ignored by passengers and transport operators in Bhola.
Launch owners apparently did not take any step to ensure social distancing and are busy taking advantage of the huge rush of passengers after a two-month shutdown aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak.
The government allowed operation of buses, launches and trains from May 31 on condition that they maintain health guidelines but hardly anyone is listening.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) sources said vessels are being operated on 34 river routes across the country.
At Bhola’s Ilshaghat, the authorities concerned and people were seen ignoring health guidelines. There was a huge crowd and people were competing to board the vessel. Many got on top of the launch’s roof.
Some passengers say they are worried about their well-being as launch operators are taking in too many people, ignoring the risk of coronavirus infection.
Several thousand people are using the launch terminal. Passengers said launch owners are collecting extra fare from them.
Mohammad Quamruzzaman, assistant director of Bhola BIWTA, said legal steps will be taken against launch owners violating the rules.
The government declared general holidays from March 26 and suspended mass transport to tackle coronavirus outbreak. The holidays were extended till May 30 in phases.
Recently, the government decided not to extend the shutdown and allow limited operation of public transport and offices from May 31 to June 15.