The suffering was less, if not totally free, during Eid travel this year compared to previous years. It is also a relief that there were not many accidents during the Eid journeys this year. Pictures of burgeoning crowds leaving the capital city just 1 or 2 days before the Eid day was also not seen this time. As offices closed four days before the Eid, people could leave for their villages in a relaxed manner. Travel was relatively smooth. At the same time, people involved with public transport and the police’s traffic department also played a relatively responsible role. As a result, the Eid journey was more or less comfortable.
Many people could not go to their village homes to celebrate Eid during the prevalence of coronavirus situation and had to cancel their vacations too. This year Eid was celebrated in an almost coronavirus-free environment. There were, naturally, apprehensions about the Eid journey. There are faults with our roads, railways and waterways along with the exploitation of syndicates. Passengers become victims of different types of hassles and sufferings from the time of buying a ticket to reaching their destination.
Before the beginning of the Eid journey, almost all the national newspapers, including Prothom Alo, and televisions published and aired reports to show the authorities the problems existing in the transport sector. Repair work was going on in different parts of Dhaka-Tangail highway and highways from Dhaka to down the northern districts. This was also a matter of concern.
Every year passenger movement increases just 1/2 days before the Eid. Experts speculate around 12 million people would leave Dhaka city in the four days before the Eid. That means the average daily number of commuters was supposed to be around 3 million. Among them, there were seats for 1.6 million people every day while another 1.4 million were to leave the city on roofs of trains and launches, covered vans, trucks, motorcycles and other light vehicles in a rather risky manner.
But many people left the city or sent their families home earlier due to prolonged Eid holidays. As a result, the homebound people did not have to wait in traffic jams for hours like before. Besides, patrolling increased on the traffic jammed roads. Two flyovers on Dhaka-Tangail highway were also opened before Eid.
Maintaining discipline becomes tougher if there is any abnormal traffic jam on any road. One of the main reasons of indiscipline and accidents on the roads is simultaneous movement of vehicles with different speed limits. Jatri Kalyan Samity (Passengers Welfare Association) expressed their concern on the movement of motorcycles, battery-run easy-bikes and auto-rickshaw on the highways. The movement of such light vehicles was limited. This was also a reason of less number of road accidents this year.
Focus should be on how much of this year’s experience could be used in the future. An analysis of the roles of prolonged Eid holiday, road system, administration’s supervision and the people involved with the transport sector could be used to set guidelines for the next Eid journey. At the same time, we should remember that people have started to return to the city. That’s why the pressure on the roads, railways and launches are rising once again. In that case, people involved with the transport sector must remain vigilant in the next few days.