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Locals in Bagerhat ‘careless’ about Fani

  • Published at 07:57 pm May 3rd, 2019
A man using using loudspeakers campaigns on a cycle rickshaw van soon after Mongla maritime port was advised to hoist signal number 7 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Severe cyclonic storm Fani likely to hit Bangladesh Friday midnight

Despite widespread media coverage and local loudspeaker campaigns for the last two days concerning the severe cyclonic storm Fani which is like to hit Bangladesh around Friday midnight, locals in Bagerhat seem reluctant to move into the shelters.

Visiting several spots of the coastal district on Friday, Dhaka Tribune found people travelling in vehicles and vessels toward their destinations in and outside the district.

Boni Aadam, an employee at the district information office, said they started the awareness campaign using loudspeakers soon after Mongla maritime port was advised to hoist danger signal number seven.

“We are doing our job sincerely, but people are not responding to our call,” he said.

According to the Met office, coastal districts of Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barisal, Pirozpur, Jhalakathi, Bagherhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars are already under danger signal seven.

Bagerhat’s Additional Deputy Commissioner Md Jahirul Islam said they have been working to draw people’s attention using their full capacity by engaging all government agencies concerned.

“We have 234 cyclone shelters – both public and private—with capacity to accommodate around 226,000 people across the district,” he said.

But as of 4pm, at best 15% of the capacity has been utilised as people were not leaving their homes only for the sake of their belongings and livestock there, Jahirul said.

He, however, was hopeful that the locals from the vulnerable areas will take refuge at the cyclone shelters as soon as the weather gets rough, especially with the beginning of extremely gusty wind.

Khaled Hossain, a fireman at the Mongla EPZ Fire Service and Civil Defence station, said they were engaged in making the people aware as well as to relocate them from their homes to the cyclone shelters.

“But, the locals do not seem interested in responding to us,” he said.

Shila Rani Das, who was heading from Mongla ferry jetty for Khulna to visit a relative, said she was not worried about the storm as the weather since morning till the midday did not prove to be threatening.

A similar reaction came from Gaura Chandra Das, a farmer, who said he was going to his home in the Sharankhola upazila from neighbouring Mongla to take care of his family, and crops.

“I don’t know what is going to happen, but if the storm strikes and the situation worsens, we may go to the cyclone shelter,” he said.

Bagerhat, home to around 1.5 million people, is one of the vulnerable coastal districts. In the 2007 cyclonic storm Sird, often dubbed one of the devastating cyclones that  hit the country in the last two decades, that saw around 800 people dead.