Public transports violating health safety, minister warns of actions

Shahin Akhter | Published: 15:56, Jun 03,2020 | Updated: 00:15, Jun 04,2020


Passengers walk down the platform of the Dhaka Railway Station at Kamalapur as they arrived in the capital city on Wednesday after offices reopened after 66 days of public holidays. — Sourav Laker

Public buses and passenger-laden launches could become epicentres of coronavirus proliferation if the transport workers and passengers continued to ignore the health regulations, especially social distancing, said officials and experts.

The concerns were raised on Wednesday as passengers were seen on crowded buses and launches at different terminals and places across the country.

While addressing a video conference, the road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader on Wednesday said that the bus terminals and bus journeys might become another source of  coronavirus spread if the health regulations were not followed properly.

He also said that they received allegations that the health regulations were not being followed in public transports.

Allegations of charging extra fares were found against some long-route and city service buses.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Railway resumed services of nine more intercity trains on the day.

In the capital buses were running with limited number of passengers while the health regulations like spraying sanitisers were rarely being maintained.

Around at 5:30pm, at Karwanbazar area, most of the buses were seen with passengers on every seat.

Passengers also got on buses without maintaining social distancing at that time.

In Chattogram city the idea of maintaining social distancing were being totally ignored while passengers also alleged that they were paying higher fares.

There were also allegations that the long-route buses were collecting extra fare than the government-fixed rate of 60 per cent more than before. 

The road transport minister urged the local authorities to increase administrative surveillance and urged the passengers to be more aware of the health regulations.

‘If the transport workers still charge extra fares, it will be considered a punishable offence,’ Obaidul added.

Transport expert and former executive director of the then Dhaka Transport Coordination Board, SM Salehuddin told New Age that it would be difficult in the  existing socio-cultural perspective of the country to make the transport workers and passengers maintain social distancing and follow other health regulations on buses.

Buses have to be disinfected as much as possible while masks for all should be ensured, he added.

Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh Secretary General Mozammel Haque Chowdhury alleged that no one was on roads to check the violation of social distancing on buses and launches.

These public transports would become the main source of coronavirus infections, he added. On the day, passengers were seen crowding the Sadarghat and Chandpur launch terminals.

Passengers on launches at Sadarghat terminal were seen sitting on decks and even in front of the cabins on some launches without maintaining social distancing rules.

They were on their way to Lakshmipur, Char Fashion, Bekua, Hatia and Bhola.

Earlier, on May 31, the authorities resumed passenger train and launch services and on June 1 road public transports including buses after more than two months following a government order.

Meanwhile Bangladesh Railway on Wednesday resumed services of nine intercity trains.

Services of two more intercity trains would be resumed from today, said railways ministry senior information officer Md Shariful Alam.

With these two trains, railway will run total 19 intercity trains from today with a limited number of passengers, 50 per cent of its capacity and tickets are sold online only.

The trains are running on routes including — Dhaka-Dewanganj, Dhaka-Chilahati, Dhaka-Noakhali, Dhaka-Kurigram, Dhaka-Chandpur, Khulna-Chilahati, Khulna-Rajshahi, Rajshahi-Goalanda Ghat, Chattogram-Chandpur, Dhaka-Benapole, Dhaka-Kishoreganj, Dhaka-Chattogram, Chattogram-Sylhet, Dhaka-Lalmonirhat, Dhaka-Sylhet, Dhaka-Khulna, Dhaka-Chapainawabganj and Dhaka-Panchagarh routes.

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