The Financial Express

Crowds on roads gradually rising for livelihoods

| Updated: April 22, 2021 21:00:02

A rickshawpuller wipes sweat from his forehead in the summer heat as he carries passengers on his rickshaw passing through the Dhaka University campus on Wednesday — FE photo by Shafiqul Alam A rickshawpuller wipes sweat from his forehead in the summer heat as he carries passengers on his rickshaw passing through the Dhaka University campus on Wednesday — FE photo by Shafiqul Alam

The crowd of city dwellers increased notably on the roads on Wednesday, on the eighth day of the two-week-long countrywide lockdown, as many people became desperate to go out for their livelihoods as well as for different other necessities.

Dodging the law-enforcing agencies amid restriction, many clothing shops, tea and cigarette stalls, and other stores were also found open in most of the lanes and alleys in the city, while the kitchen markets also witnessed a rise in customers.

A number of people were also out of home for treatment purposes of themselves and their relatives, as the Covid-19 death toll reached 95 in 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday morning, while another 4,280 people were tested Covid positive during the period.

The number of private car, microbus, ambulance, ride-sharing motorbike, rickshaw, CNG-run auto-rickshaw, van and bicycle increased manifold on the day.

Bablu Hossain, a bedding and curtain shop owner at Jafrabad, told the FE that he has to deliver products to ten of his clients within April 30.

"I have to pay shop rent and salary to two of my workers before Eid."

"There is no new order for the last three weeks. If I cannot complete the ongoing ones, there will be no way to give shop rent as well as salary of the workers," he added.

Irish, a Dhanmondi-based clothing shop, was seen open on the day.

Talking to the FE, manager of the shop said its shutter was half-open, so that they could close it in a second, if the policemen came.

"We also have online-based buyers. We are packaging products for those customers in Dhanmondi, Rayer Bazar and Mohammadpur areas," she mentioned.

Meraj Ali, a van-puller, said he is carrying rice, onion, potato and other essentials from Sadeq Khan Market at Rayer Bazar to other areas.

"I think van is out of the government's lockdown restriction, as it is the cheapest vehicle for carrying essential products in a short distance," he concluded.

Meanwhile, rickshaw was the major vehicle on the lanes and main roads, while law-enforcers were less strict to rickshaw-pullers.

The number of seized rickshaws by traffic police was much lower on the day than other lockdown days.

Habibur Rahman, an on-duty police officer in Mohammadpur, acknowledged that they were somewhat overlooking the presence of rickshaws.

He said the number of the hospital-going people increased as per their road inspections, and rickshaw was a key vehicle for many of them.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity, association of the country's shop owners, urged the government to permit opening of shops by maintaining health rules from Monday.

Helal Uddin, president of the association, told the media that on April 18 they made a plea to open markets from Thursday (April 22) for the sake of livelihoods of 21.4 million people, who are directly involved in more than 5.3 million shops.

The government relaxed restrictions for many of the sectors, excluding shops and shopping malls.

He noted that most of the shop owners would be unable to pay shop rent and employees' salary before Eid, if the government did not allow them to open ahead of the festival.

However, the government is yet to make any decision on opening of shopping malls and other market places, as Covid infection rate and death by the virus are still high.

Though the infection rate declined in 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday morning compared to the days of last one week, but it was still above 15 per cent.

Of 28,408 people, 4,280 were tested Covid positive in the country during the period, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

Some 0.73 million people have been Covid infected so far in the country in last 13 months, and death toll reached 10,683 during the period.

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