Tue, December 07, 2021

international

Run-up to Lockdown: Madness, again


People stream out of capital disregarding safety rules; city dwellers rush to buy essentials

The same old pictures of thousands of people leaving the capital have returned as the country braces for another lockdown.

Until last night the decision was to enforce a seven-day lockdown from tomorrow amid the alarming rise in new cases of Covid-19 and deaths.

But Sk Rafiqul Islam, additional secretary at cabinet division, last night told The Daily Star that the countrywide lockdown will be enforced from July 1.

Meanwhile, the news that the lockdown will be from tomorrow triggered the exodus. Due to travel restrictions between Dhaka and the rest of the country, the usual mode of transport has not been available.

As a result, hundreds of people boarded trucks, pick-ups, three-wheelers, human hauliers and rode motorcycles to reach their destinations.

Long-haul buses have not been entering or leaving Dhaka since June 23.

Shimulia-Banglabazar and Paturia-Daulatdia ferry terminals remained extremely crowded yesterday as people headed for the southern districts across the Padma.

Grocery stores, and kitchen markets across Dhaka there were more shoppers than usual.

The Press Information Department's statement on Friday said nobody would be allowed outdoors unless there is an emergency. This is the first time the government has used the word "lockdown" while announcing coronavirus restrictions.

Healthcare facilities are struggling with the number of new patients as the delta variant of coronavirus has spread in the communities.

Farhad Hossain, state minister for public administration, told The Daily Star that the army and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) personnel along with the police would be deployed to ensure proper enforcement of the lockdown.

Throughout yesterday, hundreds of people, including women and children, thronged the roads at the outer edge of the city with luggage and other essentials. Many have said that the seven-day lockdown will be extended.

At Gabtoli bus terminal, people were arriving throughout the day on rickshaws and auto-rickshaws. They went across the Gabtoli bridge on foot and boarded local buses in Amin Bazar to reach their destinations. A large number of people were also entering the capital in the same way.

In Amin Bazar, small vehicles were being hired in exchange for exorbitant sums by the people.

Microbuses were charging Tk 2,000 per person to go to Rangpur.

Jahidul Islam, a 33-year-old construction worker, was returning to his village in Kurigram, fearing that he would not be able to find work during the lockdown.

"How can I pay Tk 2,000 to go to Rangpur and more to reach Kurigram? But I will have to starve if I stay here without a job," he said.

Law enforcers stopped the vehicles on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at the entrance of Gazipur to prevent people from reaching the capital from the districts. This forced many people to walk or get on small vehicles to reach their destinations.

Our correspondent in Munshiganj reports that Shimulia and Banglabazar ferry terminals remained crowded since early morning. Maintaining physical distancing was out of the question on the packed ferries. 

Safayet Ahmed, manager at Shimulia ghat, said 14 ferries were operating between Shimulia and Banglabazar. Only the vehicles providing emergency services were supposed to board the ferries.

At kitchen markets in Mohammadpur, Karwan Bazar, Mirpur and other areas of the capital, people were buying goods in large quantities even though the government has said nothing about closing down kitchen markets.

Traders said it seemed that most of the buyers appeared to be stocking up for a week or longer.

Shopkeepers at Karwan Bazar kitchen market said the number of shoppers increased after around 12:00pm. Sellers at Yousuf General Store said people were mostly buying groceries and sanitary products. 

He added that the wholesale price of onion rose from Tk 42-45 a kg to Tk 50-55 a kg and the price of potatoes rose from Tk 16-19 per kg to Tk 25.

A salesperson at a store in Mohammadpur said there were more shoppers than usual yesterday.

Published : June 27, 2021

By : The Daily Star / ANN