Home going people gather at Mawa ghat to cross Padma

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Dhaka, May 19: Several thousand people gathered at Mawa ferry terminal on Tuesday morning in their desperate bid to cross the Padma River although ferry services remained suspended.Thousands started going home through Shimulia-Kathalbari in Munshiganj and Paturia-Daulatdia routes in Manikganj since morning defying the government’s restrictions on movement and taking the risk of virus infection.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) suspended ferry services on Shimulia-Kathalbari river route at 3pm on Monday to stop people from travelling home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The suspension of the ferry service helped little to stop people’s frenzied rush to go home on Tuesday morning as Mawa ferry terminal in Munshiganj turned into a sea of people around 10am.

People avoided the highway and walked for kilometres after kilometres to the terminal through alternative roads in villages, reports a UNB journalist.

Thousands of people were seen waiting in ferries kept anchored on the terminal for crossing the river.

Earlier on Monday noon, four large ferries became unable to carry vehicles due to massive pressure of people and the situation worsened alarmingly, forcing the BIWTC to suspend the ferry services.

Md Shafiqul Islam, assistant general manager of BIWTC, said the decision was taken after consulting the Ministry of Shipping.

“Ferries will carry only ambulances carrying bodies until further notice,” he said adding that goods-laden trucks will not be permitted either to cross the river.

On Paturia-Daulatdia route in Manikganj, BIWTA resumed ferry services on Paturia-Daulatdia route after six hours’ suspension at 6pm on Monday as hundreds of vehicles and people got stuck at the ferry terminal.

Mohiuddin Russel, deputy manager of BIWTC’s Paturia terminal, said the authorities suspended ferry services around noon due to excessive pressure of vehicles.

Ferry services resumed at 6pm as over a thousand private cars got stuck at the terminal area. Six ferries started carrying goods-laden trucks and ambulances, he added.

On Sunday, Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed directed the police to take steps so that people cannot either leave or enter Dhaka ahead of Eid.

He also urged people not to go to their village homes from the capital and other cities during the Eid and follow health guidelines during the pandemic.