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Friday, July 17, 2015, Shraban 2, 1422 BS, Ramadan 29, 1436 Hijr

Eid exodus from capital reaches peak
Staff Correspondent
Published :Friday, 17 July, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 6
Almost half the capital's boasting population of around 15 million, will have already gone home by today (Friday) mostly to the villages to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr with families and friends.
Many of the remainders will also be heading out in no time to join the celebration, rushing on to crammed buses, trains, launches and ferries in their last minute effort to enjoy a week-long Eid holiday.
Authorities have arranged extra trains, buses and ferries to facilitate home journeys on time and make them safe and more comfortable.
The Eid brings all people together irrespective of class and creed, they pray together and exchange greetings. It's a combination of religious and social rituals.
People living in cities go home to meet their families and others they have not seen or met for a long time. "It is often an emotional reunion," said an employee of a private company bidding farewell to his colleagues at a bus terminal.
The crammed Dhaka streets appeared almost barren in some places on Thursday with fewer traffic on the roads.
"I am staying back in Dhaka to enjoy the brief quiet period from mading crowds and nagging street jam," said Abdullah, a businessman.
He said, "I could go home but decided not to, as I may not see such a relaxed city in another year's time."
The official Eid holiday begins today (Friday) and stretches through the coming weekend.
The exit routs from Dhaka such as Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka-Munsiganj, Dhaka-Mymensingh, Dhaka-Gazipur and Dhaka-Tangail roads are experiencing trouble with infrequent traffic congestions due to additional pressure of buses to carry additional homebound passengers to their native villages.
Those transports have been seen plying on two highways at Gazipur despite a government ban on goods carriers on highways during the Eid rush of vehicles carrying home-bound vacationers.
Police officials on duty in various sections of the highways said these slow-moving vehicles, coupled with the rush of home-goers, are causing tailbacks.
Gazipur's Additional District Magistrate Mohammad Hossain said, the  communication ministry order, effective from Thursday, had been conveyed to the Highway Police and officials concerned on Wednesday.
But, as the Eid rush swelled on Thursday, there was congestion at cross-roads including those at Bhogrha bypass, Chandana, Mawna on the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway and Konabarhi, Kadda, Shafipur, Mouchak and Chandra on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway.
Hossain expressed his helplessness over the situation. "It was supposed to be effective from Thursday. I can't understand why these vehicles (slow moving) are being allowed on the roads."
Salna Highway Police OC Md Daud Khan, however, said stopping them midway on the highways would have aggravated the tailbacks.
"Stopping these vehicles will lead to more trouble. These vehicles are plying on the Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Tangail highways as they could not be stopped at Bhogrha," he added.
The police officer also pointed out that failure to regulate traffic flow on the highways by preventing u-turns at the Barsha Cinema Hall, Basan Road, Gazipura and Tongi College Gate was adding to the problem.
However, SI Md Bahar Alam, in-charge of Naujor Highway Police Camp, said they had blocked off many such turns.
Gazipur Traffic Division's Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Shakhawat Hossain, on-duty in Chandra, said, "You cannot stop trucks, tankers and covered vans halfway when they are on the highways."
District official Hossain said the failure to enforce the ban order would be investigated.
Witness Abul Hossain, who went to Chittagong from Dhaka on Thursday, told the Daily Observer that he had to face huge traffic congestion at Dhaka-Comilla roads and entrance of the Chittagong city. Huge numbers of buses and other transports are in a halt for a long time.
He, however, admitted that the traffic congestion is less than any other Eid period.
Transport owners say transport workers' unions in different areas are involved in the extortion.
Overcrowded launches with too little safety gear left the Sadarghat and Mawa launch terminals in the capital and Munshiganj Thursday, putting the lives of thousands of home-goers at risk.
Rough weather and swollen rivers made their trips even more risky. Law enforcers and officials of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) did not act to stop overloading of vessels.
Visiting the two terminals, this correspondent found that most of the launches were carrying passengers more than double their capacity.
At least four single deck vessels left the Mawa terminal for Kawrakandi of Madaripur between 12:00pm and 1:00pm.
Launch drivers at Mawa did not start their vessels until the BIWTA officials forced them to do so.
The shipping ministry had asked launch operators to keep enough life-saving gear on board, but there were hardly one or two life buoys and life jackets in each of the vessels.
However, most of the speedboat passengers put on life jackets while crossing the Padma.
Around 80 launches operate on the Mawa-Kawrakandi route daily, said sources.
According to government statistics, 180 people die in accidents in waterways annually on an average. However, the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways said river accidents claimed 326 lives every year on an average in the last 20 years.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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