Curbing the return home: directives are difficult to apply
The government has imposed several restrictions, including an embargo on leaving workstations during the upcoming Eid holiday to prevent the mad rush of holidaymakers, but a clear overview is lacking on how to apply these restrictions aimed at curb the spread of Covid-19.
For example, the Ministry of Public Administration has full control over all government officials, but the case is not the same for those working in non-governmental and autonomous organizations.
Chances are that many of these employees will leave the capital to spend the festival with their loved ones.
The apprehension stems from a few factors.
According to a new government circular, public transport, including buses and minibuses, will only be allowed to travel within the territory of each district. Bus operators, however, stressed that it will be difficult to enforce as most vehicles travel from one stop to another, not depending on the territory of the districts.
People will be able to travel beyond the boundaries of a neighborhood and take a new vehicle to go further, advancing to their destinations – their village homes.
In addition, a large number of cars and microbuses continue to carry passengers to and from Dhaka on hire, charging almost double the regular bus fare. The number of these vehicles is expected to increase during Eid.
The rush to ferry terminals is increasing every day.
In such a situation, officials have expressed concerns that the government will not be able to prevent the mad rush during the festival and that this will ultimately help the virus to spread further, leading to a worsening of the Covid-19 situation.
The Cabinet Division yesterday issued a circular with a six-point directive, extending certain restrictions on the movement of people and public transport from May 6 to 16.
The government has been applying these restrictions since April 5 to stem the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country, which is fighting the second wave of the pandemic.
Over the past month, however, the government has relaxed many of the restrictions. It reopened shopping malls before Eid and thousands of shoppers flock to them every day, ignoring health safety rules.
He alarmed health experts.
Experts have said the Covid situation in Bangladesh could worsen due to the increase in the public movement centering on Eid. They warned the situation could turn fatal if a new variant found in India made its way here.
Eid will be celebrated in about a week.
Passenger welfare organizations estimate that around 80 lakh to 1.2 crore of people leave Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur every year before Eid.
This time, large numbers of people have already left the cities, defying the government embargo. During the two Eid last year, thousands of people followed suit and experts said the coronavirus situation had worsened because of it.
‘DO NOT LEAVE WORKSTATIONS’
According to the new circular, officials and other employees of all government, non-government, self-governing offices, banks and other financial institutions will not be allowed to leave their area during the Eid vacation.
A copy of the circular was sent, inter alia, to the Inspector General of Police, all divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners and upazila nirbarhi officers “for information and implementation”.
When contacted, Shaikh Yusuf Harun, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, said, “All government employees are required to obey the order of the government.
“Each employee must obtain prior authorization before leaving their workstation. If someone leaves the workstation without authorization, action will be taken in accordance with the service rules,” he told the Daily Star yesterday.
Asked about those who work in non-government and autonomous offices, he said: “I can only comment on government employees.”
When contacted, Haider Ali Khan, deputy inspector general of the police headquarters, said: “We will work to implement the government’s decision.”
However, another senior official from the police headquarters said it was the duty of the authorities in the relevant office to ensure that the government directive was followed.
“Nothing is clear on the role of the police in this regard,” said the official, wishing not to be named.
PRESSURE FROM PEOPLE IS INCREASING
Thousands of people are leaving Dhaka every day in private cars, microbuses and small vehicles amid this so-called lockdown, paying extra money.
Ferry services on the Shimulia-Kathalbari and Paturia-Dauladia routes are under enormous passenger pressure and are likely to increase even more in the coming week.
A Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) staff member at the Mawa ferry terminal said they have been operating 12 to 13 ferries a day in recent days as the number of cars and microbuses waiting to cross the Padma was increasing.
“We do not stop any private vehicle. I have not seen any action on the side of the police in this regard in recent days,” he said, wishing not to be named.
Zillur Rahman, deputy general manager of BIWTC’s Aricha office, said they operate four to five small ferries and two to three large ferries, if necessary, during the day and 14-16 at night.
Responding to a question, he said: “We are supposed to transport ambulances, vehicles loaded with goods and emergency vehicles, but a lot of private cars and microbuses gather at the terminal every day. send them back? “
A senior transport ministry official said cars, microbuses and passengers of various other small vehicles are allowed to cross the river using ferries given the “reality on the ground”. Because in the absence of ferries, desperate people will board trawlers and speedboats and this can lead to accidents like what happened on Monday.
A speedboat carrying 30 passengers crashed into a sand-laden bulk carrier in the Padma at Shibchar upazila in Madaripur, killing 26 people.
Minister of State for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, however, said they would operate ferry services on a limited scale and only vehicles loaded with cargo and emergency would be allowed to board the ferries. .
PUBLIC TRANSPORT WITHIN THE DISTRICT
According to yesterday’s circular, all inter-district public transport would remain anchored. However, the operation of public transport would be allowed within the territory of the district.
Train and launch services will also remain suspended.
Khondaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, said they would use buses inside the districts following government guidelines.
A leader of the transport owners association, however, said they were confused and did not know if they could resume their activities before Eid.
He said major operators, which operate long-distance buses, will not take over bus services, but smaller operators can, even on inter-district routes.
“It would be difficult to guarantee that buses run within the territory of a particular neighborhood. Many buses can cross the boundaries of the neighborhood and claim that the bus belongs to another neighborhood,” he said, wishing to remain anonymous.
WORKERS DEMAND THE RESUMPTION OF LAUNCHING SERVICES
Water transport workers demonstrated in Dhaka yesterday to demand the immediate resumption of launch services on all roads across the country.
They said all health rules would be followed. They also demanded payment of their salaries and arrears by tomorrow.
In accordance with a planned program announced by the Bangladesh Federation of Noujan Sramik, the workers started a protest procession in front of the central office of the federation in Dhaka and then marched to the headquarters of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).
Speaking during the program, their leaders said workers at the launch and other public transport were most affected by the “lockdown” as the government took no alternative measures to protect their livelihoods.
At the same time, people, including workers, spend more than twice to get to their homes in different ways violating health rules.
Later, a representative team of five delivered a memorandum to the president of BIWTA, a press release said.