Following a recent rise of Covid-19 cases across the country, the government has imposed a one-week lockdown, effective Monday. But on the first day of the lockdown, there has hardly been any initiative from the Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) or the district administration to ensure the implementation of lockdown directives properly.
In the port city, long-distance inter-district traffic is closed but the city's public transport is running, loaded with passengers as before in various areas of the city. Many offices and large shopping malls are closed, but other shops and markets are open.
Around 9am on Monday at the entrance of the city near Kaptai road, thousands of people were entering and leaving the city on CNG auto-rickshaws, three-wheelers, and minibuses, from different upazilas.
Very few passengers followed hygiene rules. There were masks with passengers but hanging on the chin or hand. There were many standing passengers despite paying double the fare for socially distanced seating stipulated by government directives. Some buses were even carrying passengers with "staff bus" or "reserve" stickers.
Government, private and autonomous offices have been instructed to arrange their own vehicles for their staff, but many of their employees were going to the office by public transport.
Moreover, many offices are not following instructions regarding running the office with 50% employees.
Three-wheeler driver Zahirul Islam said he had been transporting passengers since morning and no one from law enforcement stopped him. Passengers also said the same.
In the port city's Bahaddarhat area in the morning, a crowd was waiting on the road for public transport. When a vehicle arrived, people swarmed on.
Private service holder Shakhoyat Hossain from the Chandgaon residential area of the city said he had been waiting since 8am to catch a bus but the buses were too crowded and he could not get on one.
Although some shops are closed along the main road in Bahaddarhat, Muradpur and Chandgaon areas of the city, all kinds of shops are open in the alley or in residential areas. Kitchen markets are in full swing with no regard for any hygiene rules. Even the city's banks and ATM booths are overflowing with customers on Monday.
On Sunday, the Chattogram district administration issued a notification with instructions to observe the one-week lockdown, asking authorities concerned to be strict to ensure that people comply with health regulations to curb infections.
To this end, 23 teams led by the executive magistrate have been deployed in Chattogram city and 30 more teams in different upazilas outside the metropolis, said Chattogram Deputy Commissioner (DC), Md Mominur Rahman.
An attempt was made to contact him on his mobile phone on Monday morning but no connection could be established.
Asked about how many vehicles have been fined by the police for not maintaining lockdown directives, Deputy Police Commissioner (Traffic) Mokhlesur Rahman of Chattogram (North) claimed that no public transport, but only some private vehicles and human haulers, ran on Monday.
Meanwhile, two more people have died of Covid-19 in Chattogram in the last 24 hours. During this period, 307 people have been identified as infected with Covid-19.
The total number of deaths in Chattogram district is 395 and the number of infections is 41,807.