May 25, 2024, 3:00 pm

Staff Correspondent

2024-04-09 13:35:31 BdST

Bangladesh shuts for long Eid vacation

Bangladesh shuts for a long Eid vacation beginning today with umpteen holidaymakers going on exodus from this overpopulated city by all modes of transport.

Witnesses said large numbers of citizens embarked on long-haul journeys on Monday, the last day in office for many before the Eid-ul-Fitr closure.

From Kolyanpur to Gabtoli, Farmgate to Mohakhali, Uttara to Abdullahpur and Gulistan to Janapath Morh, the key exit routes from the city witnessed heavy traffic jams on the day -- and the situation kept worsening from iftar at sundown.

Excepting government, semi-government and financial institutions, most of offices and factories declared Eid holidays from Tuesday which would continue until the Bangla New Year eve (April 14, Sunday).
And the longest-ever six-day newspaper closure begins today, alongside public holiday.

The holy Eid-ul-Fitr is set to take place Wednesday or Thursday, depending on moon sighting.

Thousands of garment workers from the industrial hub of Gazipur also joined the Eid caravans on Monday afternoon.

The northbound Dhaka-Tangail and Dhaka-Mymensingh highways in Gazipur stretches looked flooded with homebound people -- men, women, children and elderly ones -- bag and baggage.

The numbers of formal transport were seen too few to cope with the rush of so many passengers. Many were seen leaving for their destinations on a long-haul journey by local buses, trucks, pickup vans and other modes of transport.

Riders on ride-sharing smaller vehicles like uber and pathao were also seen in large numbers leaving the centripetal capital city, Dhaka, on the day.
"Inter-district-bus counters in Gabtoli, Kallyanpur, Jatrabari and Mohakhali were crammed with passengers waiting for their bus or trying to find tickets," says a firsthand account of Eid journeys.

Habibur Rahman, an employee of a printing press, went to the Hanif Paribahan counter at Kalyanpur. He said after failing to secure tickets for Rangpur-Dinajpur-bound trains, he was trying to get bus tickets for April 8 or 9 to go home near the far-flung northern tips of Bangladesh.

"I sent my family in the last week of March to avoid the Eid- journey hassles," he says about his prudent step prompted by usual scrabbles on two Eid occasions.

Md Anisur Rahman, manger of Hanif Paribahan, said tickets for April 8 to 9 trips had run out ten days back.

"We are trying to provide additional two or three buses so that people could get tickets at the last moment," he added.

He said buses left the Gabtoli transport hub without any hassle until 10:00 am on Monday but traffic congestion started rising from midday.

Julhas Uddin Sajal was waiting for Panchagarh-bound Nabil Paribahan which was scheduled to leave Gabtoli at 11:00 am.

"It is 1:00 pm now, but yet to see any sign of the bus," he says about the bus-schedule failure.

Manager of the north-based bus operator Md Awal gives a cue to what remains a perennial pain in the neck of northerners on journeys on the greatest religious festivals of the Muslims.

"Return busses from the northern regions were stuck between Chandra and Amin Bazar for traffic jams, thus creating one-to two-hour late," he says about the gridlock at the Dhaka gate.

Meanwhile, Tangail and Gazipur sources said there were long queues of vehicles waiting for passengers across several kilometers of Chandra in Gazipur on the Dhaka-Tangail highway.

Vehicles were parked on the side of the highway from Kabirpur and passengers were passing through Chandra. Long-distance vehicles running on the highway were losing gear.

"Traffic jams were created for 30 minutes to one hour due to loss of speed," said Abu Osman, supervisor of Pabna-bound Shyamoli Enterprize bus.

On the other hand, short-distance buses, minibuses, trucks and pickups are kept waiting for passengers at different intersections of the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway amid lack of monitoring, raising traffic congestions further.

Loss of speed created a long traffic jam at the intersection of the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway, spread over almost kilometers.

Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Mauna Highway Police Station Sheikh Mahbub Morshed said since Monday afternoon, a large presence of garment workers returning home for Eid has been noticed on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.

"We are working to reduce the traffic congestion at the intersection of the highway," he said.

Officer-in-charge (OC) of Nawjor Highway Police Station, Gazipur, Shahadat Hossain said that condition of the highway was good but cars, microbuses were parked to pick up floating passengers, creating traffic jams for a short period of time.

Additional Superintendent of Police of Gazipur District Nazmus Saqib said that the police were working to prevent traffic jam at the Chandra crossroads.

"No vehicles are allowed to park on the highway. Wreckers are also kept ready to remove the dilapidated vehicles from the highway, so that the vehicles could be removed with the wrecker in no time," he said.

Meanwhile, the Sadarghat Launch Terminal in the city was found abuzz with passengers on the day as distant costal people started to go to their homes.

The government has provided special launch services on 41 routes to the backwater on the occasion of Eid.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has arranged special launches on the southern sea route to handle the pressure of people returning to native homes to celebrate the Eid festival with their near and dear ones, after a month of fasting and abstinence.
The special launch service started on April 6.

A total of 130 launches are carrying people on 41 routes in the southern regions.

Ismail Hossain, Joint Director of Dhaka River Port of BIWTA's Maritime Safety and Traffic Management Department, said the number of passengers increased triply from Monday.

"We have instructed the launch operators to refrain from taking additional passengers following the odd climatic conditions this April," he said.

However, the pressure of homebound people was found having increased manifold at Kamalapur Station on the day.

Hundreds of passengers were seen waiting on the platforms as they reached the station long before the scheduled time.

Zulfikar Ahmed, a passenger of Burimari Express train bound for Lalmonirhat, said the departure of the train would be 30 minutes late.

"No regrets about it as I was able to secure a ticket and have come to the station in time," he said.

It is very difficult to travel by bus on the Dhaka-Rangpur route during Eid tussle, he said.

A Rangpur Express passenger, Anowar Hossain Noyon, said his train was one-and-a-half- hour late while many of standing passengers were there.

Kamalapur Railway Station manager Masud Sarwar said it was the 6th day of formal Eid journey and the crowd was the highest considering previous days.

He said, "No passenger will be allowed on the rooftop and no standing tickets have been sold."

He claims it is the best railway journey the passengers are experiencing this Eid.

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