Fifteen ferries operating on the route due to rush of travellers to southern Bangladesh
Thousands of people continued to flock to Shimulia ferry terminal in Munshiganj's Louhajong upazila on Sunday, intending to leave Dhaka city ahead of the all-out lockdown from Thursday.
Ferries were packed with countless passengers with little to no space between each other, while a few were seen standing atop goods-laden transports on the ferries in an attempt to steer clear of the crowd.
The number of vehicles at the terminal and on the ferries was also high as people were rushing to their destinations in private cars and microbuses in absence of public transports.
Mawa traffic police In-Charge Zakir Hossain said the terminal was noticeably more jam-packed on Sunday compared to Saturday.
“At least 400 vehicles are waiting for ferries. The vehicle queue is now under control, but the crowd has become unmanageable, no one is following Covid-19 safety protocols,” he added.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) has kept 15 ferries operational on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route to handle the passenger rush.
Shimulia BIWTC Manager (commerce) Safayet Ahmed said: “The crowd is getting bigger on top of the pressure of vehicles since the morning.”
“It will not be possible to stop passengers from crowding the terminal if they are not stopped on the roads,” he added.
The death toll from Covid-19 crossed 14,000 in Bangladesh on Saturday as the pandemic situation in the country continued to worsen.
Under the circumstances, the government on Saturday decided to enforce a nationwide all-out lockdown from Thursday while a lockdown on a “limited scale” will remain in effect from Monday.
All types of public transports will also be suspended from Monday. But factories, especially the export-oriented ones, are likely to be exempted from the restrictions and banks are likely to operate on a limited scale.
Issuing a warning against the exodus just before the lockdown, Mushtaq Hossain, adviser to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, on Saturday said: “This is surely the start of the next wave of Covid-19 in Bangladesh.”
The situation could deteriorate further if people continued to flout health guidelines, added the public health expert.