The Financial Express

Eid travel countdown

| Updated: July 28, 2020 21:43:32

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The Eid-ul-Azha is only days away. Keeping the corona pandemic-caused fraught situation aside for now, many people began taking preparations to celebrate the festival. Health experts have warned against the traditional style of the festivities this year. The ongoing corona menace is feared to intensify in the very open-air markets of sacrificial animals, to be aggravated later during the rush of holiday makers from cities to their village homes. The next few days will witness the intending village-goers travel to their ancestral homes by availing all possible modes of mass transport. Apart from the long- and mid-haul express and local buses, trains and motor-launches are taking brisk preparations to take the passengers home.   

In view of the countrywide outbreak of the pandemic, along with its ravages and floods, the coming Eid-ul-Azha  is set against a challenging backdrop. Considered the second-biggest Muslim celebration after Eid-ul-Fitr, this Eid has a unique feature: solemn but festive centring round sacrifice of animals. The dreadful scourge of COVID-19 has earlier detracted a lot from the spontaneity accompanying the Eid-ul-Fitr. With the unremitting rise in the intensity of the pandemic, the Eid-ul-Azha is also  set  to  be bereft of  the  usual flurry of the pre-Eid activities --- a chief segment of it being the purchase of sacrificial animals. With this phase fast reaching its peak, the preparations for homebound Eid travels are keeping many others busy. Against this backdrop, monsoon floods in large swathes of Bangladesh have begun posing threats to the smooth celebration of the Eid.

Apart from devouring villages, the flood waters wreak havoc on the already dilapidated road networks in the country. In the distant and immediate past, flood-damaged roads have caused untold sufferings to village-goers before Eid. This year, roads and highways might reenact the past ordeals for the village-goers travelling by coaches and buses. If they remain true to their word, the roads and highways authorities are expected to take measures to make the journeys hazard-free. There had been no dearth of such promises in the past, most of which were to  later prove  undelivered.

Given the authorities' infrastructural and manpower limitations it is time they embarked on unconventional measures. Due to their limited number to be in operation this year, especially the long-distance deluxe coaches, the short-haul buses this Eid are feared to travel overcrowded. It means the mandatory physical distance will appallingly be thrown to the wind. In such cases, the youths who have volunteered to engage in many a corona-related emergency could be invited. The interested and altruistic youths could be called in to ensure hygiene in buses and reduce tailbacks on the highways. These youths are expected to offer their services as an auxiliary force alongside  the  police. The transport authorities could assign them also to bus terminals. A potentially fraught situation awaits passengers travelling by motor-launches. Shabbily renovated overcrowded vessels emerge as a dreadful scenario during the Eid travels. Few Eids in the country pass without bus and launch accidents, many being fatal. A hazard-free Eid, already overshadowed by COVID-19, should be the avowed   goal to provide  relief to people in these terrible times.

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