Dhaka dwellers began returning from their village homes on Sunday in packed ferries and by cars, microbuses, and any other vehicles they found available after the Eid vacation amid the suspension of buses, trains and launches in the lockdown until 23 May.
People from the southern region were seen crowding into ferries in the scorching heat. They travelled from different districts of the region by auto-rickshaws, easy bikes, private cars, motorcycles and pick-up vans to Daulatdia and Banglabazar ferry terminals. From there, they crammed into ferries to cross the Padma river to reach Mawa and Shimulia terminals in the capital.
Many of the passengers were not wearing masks, raising the risk of spreading Covid infection.
Though the authorities had increased ferries after Eid to carry passengers across the rivers, they were still not adequate.
People from the high-income group hired private cars or took flights to return to the city, but those from the middle-class and low-income groups were suffering because of the suspension of long-haul bus services and trains.
Some people changed several transports on their journey back to their workplace.
Dhaka-bound passengers were also returning by ferries from Madaripur and Munshiganj.
The rush of incoming passengers led to tailbacks on roads connecting the Mawa, Shimulia terminals in Dhaka.
Sources at the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation said five people had died two days before Eid, being trampled on by crowds amid the heat in two ferries on the Banglabazar-Shimulia route.
Fifteen of 18 ferries were running across the channel. From Daulatdia, 16 ferries were carrying passengers to the capital.
At Shimulia terminal, there were both inbound and outbound passengers. People from 21 districts were crossing the river to join work in Dhaka while many others were leaving the city to go to their village homes after the vacation to avoid the Eid rush.
Passengers said the suspension of launches had resulted in overcrowded ferries, increasing both the sufferings of the passengers and the risk of a further spread of Covid-19.
Taking the advantage of the transport crisis, passengers were charged extra fare, in some cases 10 times the usual fare.
Munni Akhter, a garment worker heading to Narayanganj, said she had changed several vehicles from Faridpur to Daulatdia, but she was not getting any public vehicle at Paturia to make the remaining journey to her workplace.
She said she did not have money to pay for the direct services and so she would again have to change transports to reach her destination.
Aziz Molla said he had gone to his village home because of his family's wish to spend Eid with him. Both his journeys out and in the city were tiring as he had to change vehicles a number of times.
A motorcyclist said he took two passengers on the pillion for Tk 1,000 each to travel from Paturia terminal to Gabtali. Many paid him Tk 2,000 to make the journey alone with him.
Private car driver Mushfiqur Rahman told The Business Standard that he was giving rides to passengers from Paturia terminal to Gabtali for Tk 500 each.
"I get passengers as soon as I reach here," he said.