Roads hum with traffic as lockdown lifted for Eid amid virus surge
Public transport services resumed in Bangladesh on Thursday, with the government lifting the coronavirus curbs for a week, ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha.
A number of buses were seen leaving their depots in the morning and plying on several busy stretches in Dhaka - Mirpur Road, Uttara, Banani, New Market and Mohakhali areas, to name a few.
Buses - both city and long-haul services - were seen carrying passengers at half their capacities. But such was the morning rush that several areas of the city witnessed traffic snarls, giving commuters a harrowing time on the roads.
Abu Raihan Mohammad Saleh, joint commissioner (traffic north) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said: “Due to the strict lockdown, many people couldn't step out of their houses. As soon as the lockdown restrictions were eased, people took full advantage of the same.
"However, police and other law enforcement agencies are keeping a strict vigil on the roads to ensure strict adherence to all Covid safety protocols," he added.
A number of inter-district buses entering and exiting the city also contributed to the traffic jams.
Traffic Inspector Akter Hossain said: “A huge pressure of vehicles has been seen since morning as all vehicles have started plying on the roads.”
Besides, train and launch services also resumed operations across the country, keeping 50% of the seats empty, apparently to facilitate the movement of people ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.
On Monday, Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon said the train tickets would be available online only to avoid any rush at the counters.
On June 22, authorities suspended the movement of all passenger vessels in Narayanganj, Gazipur, Munshiganj, Manikganj, Madaripur, Rajbari and Gopalganj to curb the spread of Covid-19 in these districts.
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) announced its decision to suspend the movement of launches, speed boats and trawlers on June 21, following the Cabinet Division’s circular on the imposition of lockdown in these seven districts.
However, the restrictions won't apply on the movement of cargo vessels and emergency services, and legal action will be taken against violators, according to the BIWTA notification.
On Tuesday, the Bangladesh government decided to ease all lockdown restrictions in the country for eight days ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.
In a notification on Tuesday morning, the Cabinet Division said the lockdown restrictions would be lifted from July 14 midnight to the morning of July 23.
However, strict restrictions will resume from July 23 and will continue till August 5, as per the order.
A record rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and fatalities in recent days prompted the government to enforce a nationwide stringent lockdown.
All modes of public transport, including road, river, rail and air, remained suspended during the lockdown.
Still in the middle of Covid-19 crisis, Bangladesh lost 210 more lives to the deadly virus, while another 12,383 people contracted it in 24 hours till Wednesday morning.
The new numbers raised the country’s death tally to 17,052 and the caseload to 1,059,538, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The fresh cases were detected after testing 42,490 samples during the period, bringing down the case positivity rate slightly to 29.14% from Tuesday’s 29.21%.
However, the case fatality rate remained unchanged at 1.61% during the 24-hour period.
The country saw a record number of 13,768 Covid-19 cases on Monday and the highest-ever 230 deaths on Sunday.
So far, 897,412 people have recovered from Covid-19, taking the country’s recovery rate to 84.70%, which is on the decline compared to other indicators.