Over the past few days, more than one lakh people left the capital, according to police
It seems nothing can daunt the thousands of desperate people from leaving Dhaka for their villages to celebrate the upcoming Eid.
Police on three major exit points in the capital are struggling to prevent the mass exodus. But, the frenzied homebound people seem to have hundreds of excuses to ride back to villages.
Over the past few days, more than one lakh people left the capital, according to police. Experts, however, said such a stubborn mass departure will multiply the risk of Covid-19 infections by many times in the country.
On Tuesday as usual, a long tailback of vehicles, mostly lighter ones carrying home-goers, was created on Mirpur road from Shyamoli to Gabtoli.
Besides, a large number of private cars and microbuses were seen leaving the city towards Dhaka-Aricha highway and Dhaka-Mawa highway.
Compared to the last few days, the traffic pressure on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway on Tuesday was a bit low.
Yet, a good number of vehicles, including private cars, sneaked out through police check-posts at Meghnaghat and Sanarpar areas of Siddhirganj.
At around 1pm Tuesday, police stopped over a hundred private cars and goods-laden vehicles at a check-post just before the Gabtoli bridge.
Most of them were turned back as they were heading for their hometowns, disobeying the government instructions.
Meanwhile, a large number of people were seen crossing the police check-post on foot with bags and baggage on shoulders, in hands or on the backs.
A Manikganj-bound woman, wishing not to be named, told this correspondent that she "must" go to the village to observe the Eid.
"Police were checking vehicles, not the people. So, I got off and walked past the check-post. Then the vehicle picked me up a few meters ahead of the Gabtoli bridge," she said.
When asked how the driver managed to convince police, she replied, "It was very simple. The driver claimed he was going to pick up garment workers from Savar and the car was empty. So, the police did not doubt him."
Police officials, however, said they are allowing only those who have urgent reasons – official and business purposes – to leave Dhaka but some people are departing the city giving wrong information.
Jahidul Islam, assistant commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Darus Salam zone, expressed his helplessness against the people's desperate rush. He said they lack enough manpower to tackle the huge exodus.
"Policemen are mostly infected with coronavirus while a large number of others are in isolation. Besides, people are very cunning. How can a few policemen stop the people's frantic journey back home though we are trying our best?"
Public health expert and chest disease physician Professor Dr Azizur Rahman warned that the entire country will turn into coronavirus hotspots if the outbound people cannot be stopped immediately.
"No place or district will remain safe. Law enforcers should stop the desperate people at any cost," he added.
Meanwhile on Monday afternoon, the authorities concerned were forced to shut ferry services on Shimulia-Kanthalbari and Daulatdia-Paturia routes as huge homebound people flocked to ferry terminals there to cross the river to go home.
When contacted, Highway Police's Additional Superintendent of Police Jishan Haque said, "We are only allowing vehicles carrying essential goods and emergency services."
Superintendent of Police of Narayanganj district Zayedul Alam said there is a frenzied rush of home-going people on highways and ferry terminals in adjacent districts.
He said police are stopping the home-goers and requesting them to go back to Dhaka.
"Only vehicles of essential goods and emergency services as well as those engaged in carrying people for urgent reasons are allowed to ply highways," the SP said.