Bus services resumed in cities across Bangladesh, including capital Dhaka, on Thursday, albeit with a limited number of passengers.
However, inter-district bus services will remain suspended in the country during the lockdown period. The lockdown-related movement restrictions have been imposed by the government to break the chain of Covid-19 infections in Bangladesh.
A reality check by UNB in Dhaka revealed that several buses left their depots in the morning and were plying on several key stretches of the capital -- Mirpur Road, Begum Rokeya Sarani, Uttara, Banani and Mohakhali, to name a few.
Like buses, other public transport vehicles like microbuses were also seen plying on the capital's roads and carrying passengers, but with 50 percent of their seating capacity.
People were seen using public transport, strictly adhering to all Covid-safety protocols.
Police said they were keeping a strict vigil on all public transport vehicles and taking action against passengers found without masks or flouting social distancing norms.
Traffic inspector Asaduzzaman said, "Bus services have resumed in the city since morning and we are checking each and every bus to ensure that all passengers maintain all Covid-safety protocols."
UNB's Cumilla correspondent reports: Buses left almost all the terminals in the district, including Shashangacha, Jangalia and Chakbazar, early in the morning. And no passengers were allowed to board the bus without masks.
Public transport services were suspended in Bangladesh on April 5, with the government announcing a countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
However, the government partially resumed the operations of city bus services on April 7 only to suspend the same with the imposition of the countrywide complete lockdown from April 14.
The transport owners' associations have already urged the government to resume bus services in the country and demanded food assistance for all unemployed transport workers across Bangladesh.
Bus fare increases
The government has increased the bus fares by 60 percent across the country, said Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on March 30.
On May 31, 2020, the government raised the fares of inter-district (Dhaka, Chittagong and adjoining areas) buses and minibuses by 60 percent in order to compensate vehicle owners carrying 50 percent less passengers to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.
The government has issued a notification extending the ongoing lockdown till May 16 with six fresh directives alongside the existing ones to contain the spread of Covid-19.
According to the notification issued by the Cabinet Division, officials of all government, semi-government autonomous and private organisations, banks and financial institutions have been asked to remain at their respective workstations during the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.
Shops and shopping malls will remain open from 10 am to 8 pm, maintaining health guidelines. If any violations are seen, the shopping malls and shops will be closed instantly, says the notification.
Inter-district transport services will remain suspended, while only intra-district transport services will operate adhering to health guidelines from Thursday.
However, launch and train services will remain suspended.
As coronavirus cases have been growing at an alarming rate since mid-March, the government imposed a ‘loose’ nationwide lockdown for one week from April 5 as part of its move to contain its spread.
Later, a ‘stricter’ lockdown was declared from April 14 to 21. On April 28, the government again extended the lockdown till May 5, with the country struggling to contain the Covid-19 transmission.
On April 23, the Cabinet Division issued a notification allowing shops and shopping malls to operate from April 25 (10am-5pm) on the condition that they would maintain proper safety protocols.