Chaos back on roads

Shahin Akhter | Published: 23:38, Jun 04,2020


The number of vehicles on roads has been on a rise since the government has lifted restrictions on the traffic movement, but the violations of traffic rules remain rampant. This photo was taken at Babu Bazar in Dhaka on Thursday. — Sourav Lasker

The usual anarchy on roads resurfaced across the country within four days following the resumption of public transport services after more than two months of lull.

Reckless driving, charging of extra fares and overcrowding of buses and traffic jam re-emerged amid the prevailing coronavirus situation when both death toll and infections were on the rise.

Road transport experts said that without ensuring quality and sufficient number of public transports, chaos on roads would continue.

On Thursday two pedestrians died on the spot and a motorcyclist sustained injuries after a Farmgate-bound bus of Bihanga Paribahan hit the pedestrians and a motorcycle in Dhaka’s Bangla Motor area.

Some of the main thoroughfares in Dhaka witnessed traffic jam yesterday as movements of people multiplied on the fourth day of reopening of road transport services. 

Since Monday, the government eased the restrictions and allowed bus services to resume which remained shut since March 26 to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Following the requests of the bus owners the government announced a 60 per cent increase of all bus fares and directed them to carry only 50 per cent passengers to maintain social distancing and follow other health regulations.

The scenario on roads yesterday evidenced an increasing tendency to breach the health rules.

In the capital most of the bus operators allowed their workers to take passengers more than 50 per cent of capacity, especially during office time.

Use of sanitisers also witnessed a decline though workers were supposed to sanitise the hands of the passengers as well as the metal door handles and grab rails in the buses.

On Dhaka roads, drivers were seen driving recklessly to compete with one another to get passengers.

In Chattogram city, passengers and transport workers both ignored social distancing.

On Wednesday, the road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader in a video message said that bus terminals and buses could become epicentres of coronavirus proliferation if the transport workers and passengers continued to ignore the health regulations.

On Thursday in another video message the minister said that that they received allegations that some of the public transports were charging extra.

Stern action would be taken against them, he added.

Director of Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Professor Md Mizanur Rahman, told New Age that the transport workers never followed traffic rules even in normal times.

Currently the workers were trying to get as much passengers as possible by competing with one another, he said.

‘Without bringing the necessary changes in the road transport sector by ensuring sufficient and quality public transports like mass and bus rapid transits, the situation on roads will never change,’ he argued.

Meanwhile social distancing on launches were being violated on the day while Bangladesh Railway resumed service of two more intercity trains taking the number of trains in service to 19.

These intercity trains were running with a limited number of passengers, 50 per cent of its capacity, and tickets are being sold online only.

Earlier on May 31, the authorities resumed passenger train and launch services and on June 1 road public transports including buses following a government order to halt all modes of transport to curb the spread of the new virus.

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