Abdur Rahman Jahangir & M Jahangir Alam - UNB Staff Writers
Update- March 21, 2020, 01:45 AM
As the coronavirus cases continue to rise in the country, city dwellers in their thousands left the capital for their village homes on Thursday and Friday out of fear that the situation may worsen further.
They are also taking advantage of the closure of educational institutions and limited activities at government and private offices to go home considering their ‘safety’.
The city dwellers are also in fear that they would not be able to leave the city if the government suspends the operations of bus, train and launch services if the situation worsens.
Talking to UNB, some employees and officials of government, semi-government and private offices said they are sending their families to their village homes for their ‘better safety’.
Bus terminals, railway stations and Sadarghat Launch terminal witnessed a huge rush of homebound passengers since Thursday afternoon as the day was the last office day before the weekend. The rush of passengers continued till Friday evening and the number of busses was seen fewer than usual time.
The passengers coming to the bus and launch terminals were seen worried thinking about getting closer to any coronavirus-infected co-passenger. They were found hurrying to get into buses and launches and take their seats. Many of them were seen wearing masks and using hand sanitisers.
Contacted, traffic inspector Akhter Hossain of Traffic (North Division) said the pressure of home-going passengers increased since Thursday and it continued till Friday evening. “I saw many people waiting along with family members at different bus counters at Abdullahpur on Friday morning.”
Besides, many people earlier left Dhaka after the educational institutions had been shut last week.
Russell Akhter who had been to Rajshahi by ‘Dhumketu Express’, said he had to go to take train since the bus operation on the route remained suspended since Thursday night. “I along with one of my nieces, got seat in the train after we crossed Bangabandhu Bridge as there was heavy rush for home-goers.”
Shamim, an official of Hanif KTC Paribahan of Kalyanpur, said many people left Dhaka over the last one week. “But we’re facing difficulties to handle the pressure of passengers today (Friday).
The Sadarghat Launch Terminal also saw a huge rush of home-bound travellers from Thursday evening. At least 10 packed launches were seen leaving the terminal on Friday evening.
Talking to UNB, Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan has said they have taken some pre-cautionary measures at railway stations as per directives of the Health Ministry to prevent the spread of deadly coronavirus. “If the situation turns worse, the government will take initiatives to stop train services for a certain period,” he said.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said preventive measures have been taken as per directives of the Health Ministry while bus owners have been directed to follow the directives. “Bus owners have been asked to disinfect vehicles before those carry passengers,” he told UNB.
Replying to a query about stopping inter-district bus service, the minister said necessary steps will be taken if needed.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said they are conducting an awareness campaign at all river ports, launches and steamers across the country for the last one month and leaflets are also being distributed to raise awareness about coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the streets of the capital Dhaka, a city of 2 crore people, are wearing a deserted look as many left it while others opting to stay indoors due to the fear of coronavirus.
The presence of vehicles, including public and private ones, was very thin, removing the everyday traffic chaos.
City dwellers usually make the best of any weekend holiday for going to shopping malls, markets, food courts, restaurants and amusement parks along with family members.
However, the scenario was completely different on Friday as people are not coming out of homes unless there is any urgent need.
Some panicked buyers were seen rushing towards to kitchen markets and grocery shops as the prices of essentials continue to rise.
Those who are coming to the kitchen markets are hurriedly going back home after the necessary shopping.