Thousands of people who left Dhaka to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with their families are returning to the capital in the same mad rush they left Dhaka a week ago.
Despite the rush last week, only 50% of mobile phone subscribers have returned to Dhaka till 20 May, as estimated by the country's four mobile phone operators.
Post and Telecommunication minister Mustafa Jabbar shared this data in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon.
Till Thursday, around 53.46 lakh subscribers of the four telecom companies — Grameenphone, Robi Axiata, Banglalink and Teletalk — entered the capital after Eid. In the 12 days till May 15, the day after Eid-ul-Fitr, around 106.46 lakh people left Dhaka for their homes in different districts.
On Thursday, around 8.70 lakh subscribers of the four telecom companies came back to the city. The largest number of people returned to Dhaka on Monday, when around 12.06 lakh mobile phone subscribers entered the capital.
On Friday, visiting various entry points to the city — including Sayedabad, Jatrabari, Gabtali, and Aminbazar — one could easily see people returning to the capital in large numbers.
The transport authorities of those areas say the rush will continue for a few more days. They also urged the government to lift the embargo on long distance public transport.
People returning to Dhaka suffered immensely due to closure of long distance bus and launch services, besides having to pay two or three times as much as they normally would.
Manik Hossen, who was returning to Dhaka from Sirajganj, had to change vehicles twice and pay a fare of Tk1,000 which is typically only Tk300-Tk350.
"I had to change vehicles three times. Moreover, we had to walk several miles to get a vehicle, and had no choice but to pay the extra fare demanded by transport service providers at their whim," said banker Monirul Islam, who was returning to Dhaka from Thankurgaon with his wife.
"Each time we changed vehicles we had to wait for around an hour or more, standing in long lines," said Monirul's wife Ahona, a primary school teacher, adding that this is exposing people to the risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus.
If the government lifted the ban on long haul buses, the risk could be greatly reduced, she continued.
A large number of people were also leaving Dhaka from different areas of the city. However most of these people had emergencies and were also paying higher fares. However the numbers leaving were far less than those returning.
One of them, Abdul Quader, a government official, was waiting at Syedabad for affordable transport to go to Habiganj.
"A relative of mine died and I have been waiting for about an hour and a half with six of my family members for transport…there are microbuses and private cars only, demanding Tk1200-Tk1500 per head, which is three times higher than usual," said Quader.
"The government should run some long distance buses to cater to emergency needs like ours," he suggested.