The Financial Express

Govt, private offices reopen amid surge in virus cases, deaths

| Updated: June 01, 2020 10:20:08

Govt, private offices reopen amid surge in virus cases, deaths

All government, semi-government, autonomous  and private offices resumed on Sunday ending a 66-day general holiday amid spike in coronavirus cases and deaths across the country.

Public transport on river, road and rail routes across the country resumed their services on the same when the country saw the highest Covid-19 deaths and infections.

On the very first day of resuming transport services and offices, Bangladesh recorded the highest 2,545 new coronavirus cases and 40 deaths.

The government allowed limited operation of public transport and offices from May 31-June 15 as it  earlier decided not to extend the general holidays for coronavirus anymore.

However, the authorities directed all concerned to maintain strict health guidelines while operating public transports and attending offices.

On the first day of opening of offices in the capital, the dwellers of the mega city have started seeing its common picture with huge traffic jam, people on roads and everywhere.

The officials and employees of the Bangladesh Secretariat joined the works, but visitors were not allowed there on the first day. 

Many ministers carried out their official activities going to their respective ministry offices.

“No visitor was allowed to the Secretariat Today. Only staffs were allowed,” Rajib Das, a police officer deployed at Bangladesh Secretariat, told UNB.

Road communications resume

Visiting several bus stands in the capital, the UNB photo journalists took pictures of people going towards different destinations on Sunday morning.

Even though people were permitted to travel, they were asked to maintain minimum 3.0 feet distance.

Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Sunday said that buses, and other vehicles will have to keep 50 per cent seats vacant.

Passengers, drivers, helpers, counter workers, must wear face masks while hand sanitiser, soaps and hand washing facilities must be available at terminals, Quader said.

He directed bus owners, labour organisations and other stakeholders to form terminal-based monitoring teams and arrange counseling for drivers and helpers to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Government increases 60 per cent bus fare

The government has increased fares of inter-district and long routes (Dhaka, Chittagong cities and adjoining areas) bus and minibuses by 60 per cent, in order to compensate bus owners carrying 50 per cent less passengers to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.

Passengers will have to pay the additional bus fares from June 1 (Monday), said a gazette notification issued by the Road, Transport and Bridges Ministry on Sunday.

The notification said the additional fares for inter-district and long routes buses and minibuses will be increased from existing Tk 1.42 for a kilometer.

The extra 60 per cent fare will be added to the existing bus, minibus fares of Tk 7 and Tk 5 in Dhaka and Chattogram metropolitan cities respectively, the notification said.

The notification also said that bus and minibus plying in Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Gazipur, Manikganj and Dhaka district under Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), will be allowed to charge extra fare with the existing fare of Tk 1.60 per kilometer.

This extra bus fare will be applicable only during the COVID-19 pandemic only, said the notification adding that after this pandemic, the bus fares will be readjusted as per the previous rates.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) on Saturday recommended raising bus fares by 80 per cent.

River connectivity resumes

Visiting Sadarghat Launch terminal on Sunday morning, a UNB Photo journalist found people gathered there to go to their destinations.

Visiting the terminal, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said all necessary measures for health safety of passengers have been taken.

Six disinfectant tunnels have been installed in Dhaka’s Sadarghat terminal and gradually 14 of those will be set up here, he added.

“Primarily, 40 to 50 launches will operate on these routes and their number will be increased depending on the number of passengers,” said AKM Arif Uddin, joint director of BIWTA.

Although the launch owners and passengers were asked to maintain social distancing while traveling by launch, Dhaka-bound launches from Barishal were seen full packed with people, reports UNB Barishal correspondent.

Each launch was filled with passengers two times more than capacity and at one stage, Barishal District Executive Magistrate Ziaur Rahman closed the deck doors of three launches.

Passengers did not pay heed to social distancing rules at launch terminal area as well as inside the launch, said BIWTA Bandar officer Azmal Huda Mithu Sarkar.

Railway stations abuzz

Kamalapur Railway Station got back its previous look on Sunday as trains started moving towards various destinations from the station since the morning.

Some passengers were seen wearing face masks, protective gowns while getting on the trains.

Eight pairs of trains have started running from Sunday after a disruption of over two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic flights to resume Monday

Besides, road, rail and river transports, domestic flights will also resume on Monday.

Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) on said domestic flights will resume on Dhaka, Chattogram, Sylhet and Syedpur routes from June 1.

“But the embargo on international flights will be in place until June 15,” CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal Md Mofidur Rahman told UNB.

Primarily, four domestic flights will operate on a small scale and later gradually flights on other routes will resume, he said.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines also decided to resume its flights from June 1, while the international flights will remain suspended until further notice.

On Saturday, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali visited Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and said that necessary health safety measures have been taken for passengers of domestic flights.

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