Bangladesh passed off its second day of the weeklong ‘loose’ lockdown on Tuesday with the daily Covid-19 cases and its fatalities reaching a new high.
But commuters said they suffered a lot on the streets on their way to offices and other destinations, and their way back home for lack of public transport. They had to endure the same sufferings on the first day of the lockdown on Monday.
As government offices and private firms and different factories remained open, office-goers were seen struggling to manage transports in the city to go to their workplaces and return homes. As part of the shutdown, public transports went off the roads.
Many of them were forced to hire rickshaws and auto-rickshaws paying excessive fares while some others reached offices walking on foot.
As the government’s restrictions were not enforced strictly, many city dwellers continued to show apathy to the health safety rules, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
Alongside private cars, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, microbus and CNG-run auto-rickshaws and many ride-sharing services were seen operating in the capital as usual while people moving freely ignoring the risks of Covid-19 transmission.
Shopping malls are closed as per the government instruction but shops were seen open in many areas.
Visiting many city areas, the UNB correspondent found shops in lanes and by-lanes open despite the lockdown.
‘Loose’ lockdown causes sufferings to commuters
Resumption of transport services
In the wake of the sufferings of commuters, the government on Tuesday decided to allow public transport services to resume operations in city corporation areas from Wednesday during the lockdown.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader came up with the announcement saying public transport services will operate in Dhaka, Chattogram, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Cumilla, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet, Barishal, Rangpur and Mymensigh city corporation areas between 6am and 6pm.
But they will have to leave half the seats empty, the minister said in a press statement.
Anti-lockdown protest continues
Shop owners and employees staged demonstrations in the city’s Mirpur, New Market and Shyamoli areas demanding the government allow them to open their shops for several hours every day during the lockdown.
Bangladesh Batik Manufacturer Employees Association formed a human chain in front of Japan Garden city on Shyamoli Link Road at around 10:00 am demanding the withdrawal of the restriction on opening shops.
They chanted various slogans for saving the garment sector by opening the shops and malls.
The protesters, numbering around 500, brought out a procession and tried to stage a sit-in on the Mirpur Road, but police obstructed them. Later, the procession ended in front of Shampa Market around 12:30 pm.
‘Loose’ lockdown causes sufferings to commuters
Hundreds of shop owners and their employees staged a demonstration in the New Market area for the third consecutive day on Tuesday protesting the government’s decision to shut down all shopping malls and markets during the lockdown.
They said it is not a justified move to keep shops, malls and markets shut when offices, factories and the Ekushey Book Fair are open.
The protesters said the government should allow them to run their business maintaining health safety rules.
Besides, small traders and their employees brought out processions in Mirpur-10 and Mirpur-1 areas demanding permission to reopen their shops. They continued their agitation for two hours from 11:00 am.
The traders feared incurring losses like the previous year due to the ongoing lockdown ahead of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr.
Worsening Covid situation
Amid the lockdown, Bangladesh saw record-breaking daily Covid-19 fatalities and infections with 66 deaths and 7,213 cases during the last 24 hours till Tuesday morning.
Over 7,000 new Coronavirus cases were recorded for the third consecutive day on Tuesday, according to a handout issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
With the new 66 deaths, the coronavirus fatalities rose to 9,384 while the mortality rate dropped slightly to 1.44 percent as it was 1.45 percent on Monday.
Bangladesh reported its first cases on March 8 last year and confirmed the first death from the virus 10 days later.
Expert for complete lockdown
Noted virologist Prof Nazrul Islam, also a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee said people did not take the ‘halfhearted’ lockdown seriously as offices, factories and Amar Ekushey Book Fair are open.
He said it seems that the government enforced a partial lockdown keeping many things open. “A partial lockdown can be enforced in any particular area, not across the country. It’ll be the waste of energy and loss of money. The desired goal can’t be achieved with it.”
Prof Nazrul said people did not take the lockdown seriously as there is no strong monitoring and enforcement of laws to implement the lockdown.
He suggested enforcing a complete lockdown, shutting down all offices, factories, book fair and businesses — except those engaged in emergency services.
Prof Nazrul Islam said it is not possible for the law enforcement agencies alone to implement the lockdown without the cooperation and involvement of people at every level, especially the public representatives. “But the government has not taken any step to engage public representatives to enforce the lockdown.”
Source: United News of Bangladesh