Thousands of people are heading towards Dhaka disregarding social distancing rules amid the closure of public transports as all public and private offices, shopping malls and markets are going to reopen from Sunday.
The huge rush of Dhaka-bound people has increased the number of pickup vans, private cars, microbuses and motorcycles on the Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu Bridge Highway.
This correspondent in a visit to the Golchattar of the Dhaka-Bangabandhu Bridge East Highway and Elenga bus stand on Saturday saw that hundreds of people were crowding there to go to the capital city.
People from north and southern parts of the country were seen riding on motorcycles, cars, microbuses and pickup vans to reach their workplaces. Pickup vans and microbuses were seen jam-packed. Meanwhile, many were seen hiring motorcycles from Elenga bus stand.
People were seen heading towards their destinations using CNG-run auto rickshaws and banned battery-run auto-rickshaws, disregarding social distancing rules.
Farhad Hossain, a garment worker, was waiting at Elenga bus stand area to reach Konabari in Gazipur at a lower fare even if it is risky. He said "I borrowed money from others to go to work. But every vehicle is demanding extra fare. I don't have that much money."
Many Dhaka-bound people who are waiting there said although vehicles are carrying more passengers than their capacity, they have to return to Dhaka to join work amid risk of Covid-19 infection. Even many were seen hiring a motorcycle jointly.
They have to reach the workplace by any means amid health risk. Otherwise it will be difficult to save the job, they added.
According to the Bangabandhu Bridge Authority, 22,000 vehicles crossed the bridge in the last 24 hours. Of these, 8,000 were micro-private cars, 7,000 were motorcycles and 7,000 were small trucks including pickup vans and cargo-trucks. Tolls worth more than Tk1.30 crore were collected on the bridge.
However, the highway police have been working to maintain social distancing by setting up a checkpost on the Bhuapur link road on the highway. People who were riding on vehicles ignoring health measures were dropped off, said police officials.
Elenga Highway police outpost in-charge Kamal Hossain said the number of small vehicles on the highway has increased since Saturday morning as alongside the country's north and southern parts, people from districts around Tangail are going to workplaces through various means.