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Many stream out of Dhaka

Shahin Akhter and Tapos Kanti Das

Thousands of people who had been left stranded in Dhaka and elsewhere for days swarmed railway stations and bus and launch terminals on Friday finding a day’s gap between two spells of blockade enforced by the BNP-led opposition alliance.
People were left stranded as they did not find the scope to get to their destinations as the opposition alliance have been enforcing the blockade of road, railway and water ways at a stretch since November 26 with gaps on Fridays.
The third spell of blockade begins this morning after the second one for 131 hours beginning on November 30 and the first one for 71 hours beginning November 26.
The pressure of the crowd at the terminals and the demand for tickets were huge, said people at the bus counters in city terminals.
Passengers, however, had to wait for several hours before catching buses which were running three to five hours behind the schedule. Trains were behind the schedule even by 16 hours.
Bus passengers also complained that they had to pay extra for tickets and had faced traffic congestion for hours on highways because of the rush.
There had been a tailback stretching about 85 kilometres on the Dhaka–Chittagong Highway and another one on the Dhaka–Tangail since early Friday which caused sufferings to people.
‘Around 10,000 inter-district buses leave Dhaka for outlying destinations every day but we do not allow buses to leave the city during general strike and blockade on security grounds,’ Dhaka Road Transport Owners’
Association secretary general Khondokar Enayetullah told New Age.
‘Because of the blockade beginning Saturday morning, we will not run buses late night,’ Abu Taleb, Hanif Enterprise counter manager, said.
Long-distance bus operators and passengers at Gabtali, Mohakhali and Sayedabad terminals said that the way people were leaving the capital without having any festival in sight was unusual.
Most of the tickets for journey to the north, the south-east and Pabna were sold out while people were shouting for tickets at the counters.
Radha Rani Das, an elderly woman from Satkhira who came to Dhaka on November 25 to see her ailing daughter, had bought a ticket for November 30 from AK Travels for the return journey but she got stranded. She is happy to have been able to buy another ticket from the same transport company for travel on Friday morning.
‘We used to observe such crowd during Eid festivals. The crowd today is even bigger,’ Mohammad Zakir, counter manager of Shyamoli Transports, said at Shyamoli in Dhaka.
Waiting for a bus to Magura about 4:30pm, elderly Alamgir Hossain said, ‘My bus was scheduled to leave Dhaka at 1:45pm but I do not see the bus till now because of the congestion.’
Transport operators said that many buses headed for the north were late because of a congestion on the Dhaka–Tangail Highway.
A Shyamoli Paribahan bus for Thakurgaon was scheduled to leave the capital at 10:00am but it left about 3:00pm.
People at the counters of Sohag Paribahan, Hanif Paribahan, Eagle Paribahan, Rozina Enterprise, JAR Enterprise, AK Travels, TR Travels and Rajbari Paribahan said that the rush had been huge since Friday morning. All the buses would leave the terminal by 10:00pm.
People also crowded the Kamalapur railway station for tickets but most of the trains headed for Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna were behind the schedule by 15 to 16 hours.
‘The disruption in the schedule because of the blockade still continues. People are waiting for trains as they have no option because of tailback on highways,’ Bangladesh Railways divisional commercial officer in Dhaka, Mohammad Mahbubur Rahman, told New Age.
A large number of people, leaving for the southern, crowded the Sadarghat launch terminal.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority officials said that the number of passengers were higher than on other Fridays. The authorities were expecting that 50 launches would leave the terminal.

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