Dhaka residents are finding fewer vehicles on the streets on the second day of the Eid vacation.
Under normal circumstances, there are fewer public transport plying in the capital during Eid. But Saturday was much worse.
CNG-run autorickshaws, the key transport option at this time, were far fewer in numbers on Saturday.
Taking advantage of the situation, cycle-rickshaws, although unfit for long-distance plying, were changing exorbitantly for the trips.
Ramon Publishers’ proprietor Syed Rahmat Ullah Rajon has set off for Banglabazar from Dhanmondi in the morning.
“Autorickshaws are the mainstay during Eid. But due to the gas supply shortage, even they are not easily available ."
Autorickshaw driver Rafiqul Islam explained the crisis.
“I found two CNG-refuelling stations shut due to lack of gas from the morning. The amount of gas I have left in my vehicle’s cylinder will not last until the evening.”
The government stopped supply for 24 hours to CNG-refuelling stations from Friday midnight for emergency maintenance at Bibiyana Gas Field.
Although this was made known much before, there was little to be done to tackle the resulting shortage as the refuelling stations do not have facilities to stock up gas.
Large number of vehicles had lined up at the filling stations from Friday evening but the huge demand led to a slump in gas pressure at the refuelling points hampering distribution.
Autorickshaw driver ‘Shahidul’ said he had refuelled once in the night. “But the gas pressure was low and I could not fill my cylinder.”
He said most CNG-run autorickshaws did not have cylinders big enough to store fuel for the whole day. So those who refuelled in the night are unsure whether it would last the day. “So many drivers are not plying in the day.”
Solaiman Miya, an autorickshaw driver who dropped a passenger in Mohakhali, said:“Those who could refuel in the night are operating now. But if the gas finishes, we will have to wait until supplies resume at midnight.
“Many have decided to wait until the afternoon to bring out their vehicles. They will run as long as they can. So the number of autorickshaws on the streets are less.”
Adrita, who lives in Mohammadpur, explained her predicament.
Pointing out that only some buses, human-haulers and CNG-run autorickshaws normally ply the streets during Eid vacation, she said, “I have to get to Gulshan. I thought I would go on a human hauler.
“They are usually available at Mohammadpur bus stand. But I could not find any today. Rickshaws are asking for very high fares.”
Saju Rai, who works at a CNG-refuelling station in Malibagh, said they were sent a notice instructing them about the 24-hour closure. “We closed our gates on Friday midnight. We will resume operations on Saturday midnight.”