Lack of public transport amid the pandemic forced many passengers to hire microbuses, CNG autorickshaws and even pick-up trucks
Commuters heading home ahead of Eid-ul-Azha have been experiencing heavy traffic on the Dhaka-Tangail, Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Chittagong highways since early Tuesday morning.
A long tailback of 25km was witnessed on the Tangail side of the Bangabandhu bridge due to a mad rush of homeward-bound people as well as vehicles carrying sacrificial animals, amid the devastating surge in Covid-19 deaths and infections.
In the last 24 hours till Tuesday morning, 48,424 vehicles have crossed the bridge for which a toll of more than Tk2.86 crore was collected.
Meanwhile, the closure of several garment factories for Eid contributed to the mad rush while the potholed stretches of the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway owing to the under-construction Bus Rapid Transit project made the situation worse.
Moreover, lack of public transport vehicles like buses and launches forced many to hire microbuses, CNG autorickshaws and even pick-up trucks to reach their destination. Overcrowding of passengers was also noticed at different railway stations in Gazipur.
Shimulia ferry ghat in Munshiganj is also witnessing a massive rush of home-bound people. Since Tuesday morning, 64 launches have been operating on the Mawa-Banglabazar and Mawa-Majhikandi waterways. Meanwhile, 15 ferries are plying on the Shimulia-Banglabazar water route.
The fares have been doubled and the rain since morning has made the situation worse for the commuters.
Heavy traffic was seen on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway as well. A reality check revealed that all Covid-safety protocols went for a toss as people barely followed social distancing norms, despite law enforcement agencies keeping a strict vigil on the roads.
Bangladesh on Monday saw 231 corona-related deaths, the highest since the pandemic hit the country, amid an eight-day pause in the nationwide strict lockdown.
The situation is likely to get worse because of the fallout from the lockdown pause ahead of Eid holidays, many experts believe.
With Covid's Delta variant spreading fast, Bangladesh has already tallied more than 1.1 million infections and 18,000-plus deaths from the pandemic. The country's fatalities have been hovering at roughly 200 for the past two weeks.
Also, Covid-19 infections in Bangladesh have reached 99% of the peak, with more than 11,828 new cases reported each day. The highest daily average was reported on July 15.
The country recorded 13,321 infections in 24 hours till Monday morning after testing 45,012 samples.
The recent surge in cases and deaths is threatening to overwhelm the country's health infrastructure.
So far, Bangladesh has administered at least 10,908,272 doses of Covid vaccines – enough to have vaccinated around 3.1% of the country's population, assuming every person needs two doses.
Additional reporting by Abdulah Al Numan, Tangail, Shamima Rita, Munshiganj, and Raihanul Islam Akand, Gazipur