Public bus services in major cities will resume from today (Wednesday) from 6:00am to 6:00pm amid the weeklong lockdown aimed at curbing the coronavirus spread.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, also the general secretary of ruling Bangladesh Awami League, made the announcement at a virtual press conference from his residence on Tuesday.
The decision came just two days after the government imposed restrictions on public transport and some other activities.
The cities where bus services would resume are: Dhaka, Chattogram, Narayanganj, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barishal, Sylhet, Rangpur, Gazipur, Cumilla and Mymensingh.
The government has reconsidered the decision to allow public transport in divisional cities on conditions considering that the people -- working in different public and private offices amid 'lockdown' -- are facing immense difficulties due to lack of transports, Obaidul Quader said.
He said public transports have to keep 50 percent seats vacant and would be allowed to charge the re-fixed fare. The decision would continue until further notice.
However, the restriction on the long-route transports would remain in force. On Sunday, the Cabinet Division issued an 11-point directive to be followed from 6:00am Monday to 12:00am on April 11 to contain the spread of the virus in the country. Punitive actions were to be taken against violators of the directives.
As per the new directives, all public transport services -- road, waterway and railway -- as well as domestic flights will remain suspended.
However, the restrictions will not be applicable to offices, employees and transports involved in maintaining law and order and emergency services, relief distribution, health services, and electricity, water and gas supply, fire service, port activities, and telephone and internet services.
Banks will operate from 10:00am to 12:30pm. Public, private and autonomous offices can facilitate the commute of their employees to workplaces, using their own transport on a limited scale. Industrial units and factories can do the same for their workers. Construction works will go on.
Ekushey Boi Mela will also continue from noon to 5:00pm every day.
In this given situation, commuters suffered during the morning rush. Many rode rickshaws while many others took auto-rickshaws to get to work, spending extra. Some had to change vehicles multiple times and even walk to work.