Bandarban town has worn a deserted look as few vehicles are plying on roads and all shops except food stores and pharmacies are kept closed following the enforcement of a lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The district headquarters turns into a ghost town especially in the evening, as people are staying at home.
Locals talk about the changed look of the town when they come out of home for urgent needs.
They are telling one another that the town has got back its old look because of the shutdown amid the coronavirus spread.
Several decades ago, the hill town was a clam and silent place as there was a small number of population there, they said.
Bawai Master, a teacher of Government Girls' High School in the town, came out of his home to buy some daily essentials on Friday evening.
He said the district has gradually developed as a town after 1997. Earlier, there were a few buildings, infrastructures, lower crowd, and a few vehicles used to ply the town streets.
While speaking to The Business Standard at Rajbari ground in the town, he said there were a few grocery stores and tea stalls in Ujanipara and Moddyapara areas of the town at that time. The weekly market used to sit near the traffic intersection every Sunday.
Shewting Prue, a teacher and cultural activist said rickshaw pullers did not want to carry passengers to Uzanipara from the traffic intersection after the dusk out of fear, as the area used to plunge into darkness after the sunset.
All the residents used to go inside their homes by the evening, he said, adding the prevailing calmness and silence amid the shutdown reminds him of those days.
Reminiscing those years, former general secretary of the district unit of Udichi and a cultural activist Kyashamong Marma said there were many big trees and bushes in the town area. Jadipara hill area was covered with deep bushes. Local people used to hear the barking of foxes in the evening. They could also hear the sounds of deer from the other bank of the Sangu River. Monkeys were seen on trees even at noon.
To all of these people the coronavirus outbreak has come as a blessing in disguise, as the crisis has helped Bandarban town get back its old serene and clean look.
Three upazilas – Lama, Alikadam and Naikhangchhari – of the district have been locked down since March 24 after one coronavirus patient was identified in Cox's Bazar.
"As one coronavirus patient has been found in Cox's Bazar, we are limiting public movement (in Bandarban)," Bandarban Additional Deputy Commissioner Md Shamim Hossain said.
The three upazilas of Bandarban are closely connected with Cox's Bazar, he said adding they have locked down the upazilas so that they can prevent the transmission of Covid – 19 from Cox's Bazar. The lockdown will remain effective until further notice.
Meanwhile, the government has put in force a nationwide 10-day general holiday to curb the spread of the coronavirus. People are barred from leaving home except to buy food or essentials during the lockdown period.