The country’s transport sector is caught between a rock and a hard place as the rising trend of virus cases and fatalities has created passenger crisis.
With the increased fare, public transport is not available, and even if it is available, in many cases the hygiene rules are not being followed properly. Apart from bus service, ride sharing service in Dhaka is also not in normal condition.
Although the relatively risky CNG-powered autorickshaws are running, Dhaka is without taxicabs as usual. As a result, ordinary people are suffering in order to get emergency transport services at this time.
Meanwhile, long-distance buses often have schedule disruptions resulting waste of time and suffering to the passengers.
The bus owners said that the number of passengers fixed by the government is not available due to corona virus. So the bus is not going as per schedule.
Visiting the bus counters at Gabtali, Mohakhali, Kalyanpur, Shyamoli, Kalabagan and Arambagh in the capital this correspondent found that the long-distance buses are not leaving on time.
Anwar Hossain, a sylhet-bound passenger said, I bought a bus ticket to go to Sylhet. The ticket-price is now 80 percent more than the actual price. But a while ago I was informed by a phone call that there were less passengers than the required number. So the bus will not go timely. I will have to go tomorrow morning.”
On the other hand, the income of bus owners has come down by almost half even after the increase in fares due to inability to transport the required number of passengers. Especially long distance buses are almost always carrying fewer passengers than required.
As a result, it is not possible for many owners to run a bus with bank installments. Public transport workers are also at risk from this prolonged pandemic. A large number of transport workers have left Dhaka as they do not have scope for job.
Long lines of passengers for public transport were seen at Uttara, Airport, Khilkhet, Kuril Bishwaroad area of the capital.
Passengers said that earlier there was a problem with getting the bus. Now there are even fewer buses during the epidemic. But now most of the buses are not taking extra passengers due to health reasons.
Most of the buses in the capital were seen empty around 1pm. However, from 4 pm to 6 pm, crowds of passengers were seen at the corners of the roads again just like in the morning.
Corona virus epidemic has changed some pictures in transport sector. First, many bus tickets are now available online. People are not traveling far without urgent need. As a result, the counters are now comparatively less busy with fewer passengers.
Manik, a counter officer on duty of a bus service at Mohakhali said, “The situation is very bad. Passengers are absolutely fewer. Running a bus is quite tough now.” In his language, “there is no income.”
Khandaker Enayetullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, said, “Everyone sees the rent has gone up. But keeping the service running in the passenger crisis is a big problem now. There are passengers during office hours inside the capital, but still have to take half the passengers due to hygiene. And there are no passengers in the long distance bus.”