Social distancing on launches still ignored

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:18, Jun 07,2020


Passengers get off launches at Sadarghat Terminal in Dhaka on Saturday ignoring the government health instruction to maintain social distancing to check COVID-19 spread. — Sourav Lasker

Directives for maintaining social distancing on passengers launches continued to be ignored on Saturday even after a week of resuming the water transport service.

Most of the deck passengers on launches were seen travelling or got off launches without maintaining social distancing while almost no action was seen from the part of vessel staff or authorities to tackle the situation.

On Saturday morning at least 70 launches came at Sadarghat launch terminal in the capital from Barishal, Patuakhali and Chandpur areas, said Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority joint director (Sadarghat office) Alamgir Kabir.

He told New Age that passengers on decks did not follow social distancing even after warning them.

‘It’s a trend that we like to seat together,’ he said.

At around 2:00pm, three launches were seen to come at Sadarghat with passengers on decks. The passengers sit together and they got off the launches without maintaining three feet distances. The launch staff did not monitor any of the matter.

Earlier on May 29, the authorities instructed the launch owners to take passengers as per their capacity while the owners demanded 50 per cent hike in fares.

A decision was taken to observe the number of passengers for the next 10 days before considering the demand for fare hike.

Meanwhile different bus operators across the country continued to charge more than the government-approved 60 per cent increase in fares on Saturday.

In the capital and in Chattogram city, social distancing on buses was flouted largely during rush hours.

Bangladesh Railway is currently running 19 intercity trains and successfully maintained social distancing taking 50 per cent passengers by selling tickets online only.

Earlier on May 31, movement of passenger launches and trains resumed following the government order and on June 1 the operation of public transports on roads resumed.

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