Staff Correspondent: Cattle getting sick while waiting for hours on end to cross the Padma With the Covid-19 lockdown eased ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, homebound travellers continued to crowd Shimulia, Paturia, Daulatdia and Sadarghat terminals for the third day yesterday. As the number of travellers and vehicles kept increasing, long tailbacks were seen on both sides of the Padma River in the afternoon. At Shimulia ghat in Munshiganj, launches were seen carrying as many passengers as possible while ignoring social distancing rules even though they were instructed to carry passengers at half capacity.
Moreover, around 500 vehicles were seen waiting at the terminal to cross the Padma River as of 12:30pm.
Thirteen ferries and 83 launches were operating from the terminal yesterday, according to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) sources. Claiming the launches were carrying people at half capacity, BIWTA’s Shimulia ghat Naval Inspector Md Solaiman told Dhaka Tribune that magistrates and law enforcers were stationed at the docks to ensure adherence to health guidelines.
An overflow of passengers was also seen at the Sadarghat launch terminal in Dhaka as well.
Despite law enforcers being present to enforce the Covid-19 safety rules, people at the terminal and on the vessels were seemingly reluctant to adhere to them.
Launch owners were dismissive of government instructions as well as they were charging 60% more than the usual fare while keeping their vessels jam-packed. BIWTA Joint Director Joynal Abedin said: “Passengers are being warned repeatedly about health rules, we are asking them to wear masks. Besides, law enforcers and BIWTA officials are present at the terminal to raise awareness.”
The BIWTA is supposed to take strict action against violators of hygiene rules. However, no passenger or launch owner at the terminal was seen facing action.
Cattle getting sick
Meanwhile, at Daulatdia ghat, hundreds of vehicles carrying passengers and sacrificial animals were waiting to cross the Padma River, creating a five-kilometre-long tailback.
Ferry traffic on the Daulatdia-Paturia route was also being disrupted by strong currents in the river, delaying vehicle transport. Traders expressed worry as cattle on trucks were getting sick while waiting endlessly to cross the river.
One of the cattle breeders said they arrived at the terminal at Friday midnight. “It is 10am [Saturday] now and we are yet to get on a ferry. The cows have been standing for a long time and are getting sick from the intense heat.”
At the Paturia ferry ghat, the pressure of home-goers is also increasing as time passes.
Bangladesh is set to celebrate the Eid-ul-Azha on July 21.
To ease the rush of shopping and homebound travel by Eid holidaymakers, the government starting from last Thursday relaxed the strict Covid-19 lockdown across Bangladesh for nine days — allowing all types of public transport to resume operation.
The nationwide strict lockdown was imposed earlier this month to curb the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths the past few weeks saw.
The relaxed restrictions will be in place until 8am July 23 in the interest of celebrating Eid, conducting pre-Eid business, keeping the country’s socio-economic condition and economic activities normal, the Cabinet Division had said in a notice.
The announcement of easing the lockdown, however, came just a day after Bangladesh recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases (13,768) in a day.
However, strict restrictions across the nation will resume from July 23 and will continue till August 5.
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