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The government’s directives on public transports carrying passengers half of their capacity has come into effect since Wednesday morning. But, buses plying on various routes in the capital including Old Dhaka, Mirpur, Uttara, Savar and Gazipur routes were seen carrying passengers more than half of their capacities.

On the one hand, many buses were seen taking 5-7 extra passengers after carrying passengers half of their capacities, on the other hand 60 per cent extra fare is being charged that the government directed on condition of carrying passengers half of capacities. Many buses have even doubled the fare.

Faisal Rahman, a government employee, took a ride on a Tanajil Paribahan bus of Mirpur route from Old Dhaka’s Jagannath University bus stand around 9:30am. He was going to his workplace at Farmgate.

Faisal Rahman said at first the driver’s assistant requested passengers to sit alone. After the half of bus’s capacities was fulfilled, 6-7 extra passengers were taken and they were told to stand.

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Among the standing passengers, elderly people and women sat next to others. But, the driver’s assistant has collected additional fare from all passengers. He took Tk 30 today (Wednesday) whereas the fare was Tk 10-15 in another time, he added.

Visiting the Old Dhaka’s Jagannath University bus stand, passengers were seen standing and siting side by side in the buses leaving for Mirpur, Uttara, Savar and Gazipur routes.

You wouldn’t realise how much people have to suffer unless you see it
Abu Saleh, A Passenger

As passengers of several buses protested, driver’s assistant shut the door after taking passengers half of the vehicles’ capacity.

Commuters also face hassle due to restriction on carrying passengers. People had to wait for long to get a bus. Many took rickshaw rides spending double fare.

Russell Ahmed was coming from Shyamoli’s Shishumela to his workplace at Farmgate. He said he had to spend Tk 20 extra since he took a rickshaw because of unavailability of buses.

Rezaur Rahman works at an IT firm. He had to go to his office at Gulshan 2. But he couldn’t get in any bus after waiting for an hour. Finally, he managed to get in a bus around 9:00am. Getting in the bus, he found the vehicle was crowded with passengers. Not everyone wore a mask. The driver’s assistant wore no mask either.

Rezaur Rahman told Prothom Alo that no bus was opening its gate in Jatrabari. All seats of buses were fulfilled. Last time, everything was closed because of coronavirus. After communication had resumed, buses carried passengers half of their capacities. No trouble occurred then. This time, this directive will cause sufferings daily since everything is open now. Hundreds of people have waited for buses since the morning. How they would go to their offices, he questioned.

“Bus owners continue to earn money, but general people like me have to face the hassle,” Rezaur Rahman lamented.

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Regarding the passenger’s allegation, supervisors of buses plying on Old Dhaka’s different routes said masks have been provided for drivers and their assistants and hand sanitisers for passengers by the bus owners. Instructions have been given to carry passengers half of the vehicle’s capacity and realise the fixed fare, they added.

Passengers, however, alleged health rules were not being followed while commuting. Private service holder Abu Saleh Ahmed went to Natun Bazar from Khilgaon’s Police Outpost on Wednesday morning.

He said that he paid double fare today and it was Tk 10 before. Fare has been increased by 60 per cent, but the bus driver and his assistant don’t maintain health rules.

Abu Saleh said, “There was no arrangement for hand sanitisation. Each of the seats has passengers. Two-three more passengers were also standing. When a (traffic) sergeant was seen at any intersection, (standing) passengers were forced to take seats. You wouldn’t realise how much people have to suffer unless you see it.”

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