Buses, trains and launches are getting a significantly smaller number of passengers during the Eid rush, raising serious concern among those involved in these sectors.
Transportation owners told The Business Standard that they are deeply worried about facing losses over operating their buses and launches during Eid, while maintaining social distancing measures and other health safety guidelines due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some owners added that most of their vehicles are returning to Dhaka without any passengers, after making trips to other districts.
Nizam Uddin, a member of the Bangladesh Inland Waterways Passengers Carrier's Association (BIWPCA), said, "We are getting a meager number of passengers, and our ticket sales have dropped by around 60 percent. We are counting losses on every trip."
"Around 40 percent passenger vessels have stopped services due to the lack of passengers. If this situation continues, the launch owners will have to count huge losses," he added.
Similar to launches, the number of buses has gone down on all routes across the country from Dhaka, because of the limited number of passengers.
During Eid time, buses and launches plying on all routes are supposed to be crowded. But transportation leaders pointed out that this year there are very few homebound passengers.
Ramesh Chandra Ghosh, president of the Bus-Truck Owners' Association, said, "We have been directed to carry only 50 percent of a vehicle's passenger capacity. Although we are getting passengers bound for different districts, we are not getting any passengers during our return trip to Dhaka.
"We continue to suffer losses. And for this reason, a large number of vehicles have stopped providing service. Currently, only around 20 percent buses from Gabtoli terminal, 30 percent from Sayedabad terminal and 35 percent from Mohakhali terminal are running."
Responding to a query about the advance sale of tickets, he said, "Every year, most of the tickets are usually sold in advance at least one week before Eid. But this year, the scenario is completely different, as people are not buying them.
"We applied to the government seeking relaxation of social distancing measures in buses, and for imposing other health safety guidelines such as hand sanitising, wearing masks more strictly, so that we can reduce our losses. But the government rejected the request."
Meanwhile, only 17 intercity trains are currently providing services with 50 percent passengers against the total capacity, and no additional trains would be introduced for Eid due to the fewer number of passengers, said railway officials.
However, two trains have been introduced for carrying cattle.
On July 21, Railway Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan said, "There are no separate arrangements by the railway on the occasion of Eid. The trains will run during Eid in the same manner as they are running now, following the health rules [50 percent passenger capacity]."
He added that the government is discouraging people from travelling to their village homes on the occasion, so the number of trains will not be increased further during Eid.
Experts said the reason behind the fewer number of passengers is that many people had already gone home earlier.
Some people have also lost the financial ability to sacrifice animals, so they have not left Dhaka for home. Meanwhile, a few others refrained from making the journeys for fear of contracting the Covid-19.