by Staff Correspondent in Dhaka;
Buses started plying in all 11 cities amid a nationwide lockdown, imposed to curb the Covid-19 cases, with commuters those who are in dire need to go out on works apparently heaving a sigh of relief.
But its consequence, medical experts fear, might be costly as the virus was spreading fast putting hundreds of thousands others on risk as the country lacks proper health facilities to handle a large number of such patients at a time.
A complete lockdown is the only way to stop the virus from spreading, they suggested.
The government on Tuesday decided to partially resume the city bus services to help committers get to their offices, as a good number of private offices remained open.
Bus operators resumed services in Dhaka, Chattogram, Narayanganj, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barishal, Sylhet, Rangpur, Gazipur, Cumilla and Mymensingh cities.
The operators were asked to keep 50 per cent of the seats vacant and charge 60 per cent hike in fares. The bus timing is between 6 am and 6 pm.
All other health rules must be maintained while plying of the buses, Public Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Qader said on Tuesday. He insisted the long-haul buses, trains and river vessels carrying passengers remained shut.
As per the government decision, the operators began the city service from the morning. But, passengers complained that most of the buses flouted health rules despite they charge higher fares.
“It increases the risk of being infected,” said Rubel Hasan, a passenger, adding no hand sanitizers was provided on the buses.
He said most of the passengers were seen wearing masks while boarding buses.
In the face of a surge in the number of daily covid-19 infections, the government on Saturday decided to impose a nationwide lockdown for seven days, keeping transportation and shopping malls shut.
But the small traders in Dhaka and elsewhere demonstrated asking the government to allow them to reopen their shops since mills, factories and other private businesses were in operation on the first day.
One person was killed as the demonstration turned violent in the south-western district of Faridpur as the protesters set many public offices to fire and attacked a local police station.