Nazma Akter came to Kamalapur Railway Station at 10pm on Thursday to buy a train ticket for travelling to her home district Gaibandha on 26 April ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
After 26 hours of waiting in a long queue, she could reach the ticket counter Friday noon. The middle-aged lady, however, did not get a ticket as the railway officials at the counter said tickets for the day had been sold out. She was advised to come again the next day.
"I have no words to say. What happened to me is not fair at all," Nazma expressed her frustration while talking to this correspondent in front of the station yesterday. "There are huge irregularities. Many were seen illegally availing tickets paying under the table," she said, adding that she came here after failing repeatedly to book the ticket online.
Another victim is Rowshan Hossain, who wanted to buy a ticket to travel to Rangpur. After 24 hours of waiting in the queue, she also failed to get the ticket.
They are just two among hundreds who waited for a long time to have train tickets but returned empty-handed on Friday. They claimed the tickets were going to black markets causing the scarcity at counters.
Meanwhile, those who could manage tickets on Friday also suffered much. However, they were happy that they got it.
"Ticket selling has been very slow, which has killed our time," Anamul Haque, who managed to buy a ticket after 26 hours of waiting, said expressing his joy.
Thousands of people were seen standing before the counters of the Kamalapur Railway Station throughout the day. With the hope of getting their tickets, they waited hours after hours. Many of them even could not have their Shehri and Iftar.
The crowd at the rail station was too big on Friday, the weekly holiday, as many people apart from the regular commuters came to purchase tickets for Eid travel. Besides, the unavailability of online tickets contributed to the huge crowd.
The majority of the ticket-seekers said they could not purchase tickets online due mainly to server problems, while a few managed to do that within the initial hour after the sales began at 8am.
Some also claimed their ticket prices were deducted from digital wallets but they were not given tickets.
Meanwhile, the Railways Ministry is scheduled to start selling advance Eid tickets today (Saturday).
To reduce gathering, the authorities this time increased the ticket selling stations to five – Kamalapur, Dhaka Airport, Tejgaon, Dhaka Cantonment, Fulbaria – from the existing two (Kamalapur and Dhaka Airport).
Apart from regular intercity trains, western and Khulna-bound special train tickets will be sold from Kamalapur Railway Station, Chattogram and Noakhali special tickets from Dhaka Airport Station, Mymensingh and Jamalpur and Dewanganj tickets from Tejgaon Station, Mohonganj special tickets from Dhaka Cantonment, Sylhet and Kishoreganj tickets from Fulbaria Station.
The tickets would be issued for travelling until 1 or 2 May. The return ticket for the initial day after Eid vacation, 5 May, would be sold from 1 May.
On 13 April, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said this time advance tickets for Eid would be available in train stations and on the app. "Online ticket sales will start at 8am every day, while in-person sales will continue from 8am to 4pm," he told the media.
Mentioning that Eid advance tickets would not be refunded, the minister said they would operate 92 intercity trains in a special arrangement as there would be no weekly break for seven days for trains before Eid.
Special train tickets would not be available online, those would only be sold at the station counters, he added. "No intercity train will run on Eid day."
According to the Ministry of Railways, it will sell Eid tickets for 27 April in advance of five days on 23 April, and the last day's (1 May) tickets on 27 April.
"In our research, we found that 1.15 crore people left Dhaka for Eid in 2019, but it reduced to only 60 lakh during the pandemic. But this time, it will be doubled again," said Professor Md Hadiuzzaman, director of the Accidental Research Institute at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
"Some 30 lakh people may leave Dhaka every day in the four days before Eid. However, trains, buses and launches have the capacity to transport 13-14 lakh passengers. Therefore, there is no transportation system for 16 lakh people," he added.
The professor fears that the transportation system may collapse this Eid.