Wednesday, December 7

Joy overshadows hassles

Home-goers defy sufferings on highways to celebrate Eid tomorrow

Kids elated as the train is about to leave the platform, taking them far from the madding crowd of the capital yesterday, two days before Eid-ul-Azha. The photo was taken at the Airport Railway Station. Photo: Star

M Abul Kalam Azad and Akram Hosen: Kids elated as the train is about to leave the platform, taking them far from the madding crowd of the capital yesterday, two days before Eid-ul-Azha. The photo was taken at the Airport Railway Station. Photo: Star

They struggled for a spot in buses, trains and launches. The journey was agonising but there was happiness in their faces as they were going home to celebrate Eid with their families and friends.

A large number of city dwellers left the city yesterday as Eid is only a day away. The religious festival of the Muslims will be observed across the country tomorrow with due religious fervour, solemnity and the spirit of sacrifice.

This year Eid virtually coincided with Durga Puja, the largest religious festival of the Hindus.

The last moment rush for home will continue today. With many already gone from the capital, the hustling bustling metropolis started showing signs of calm, which is expected to remain until the end of the week.

Expectedly, most people opted for trains and launches. There was a stream of people towards Kamalapur Railway Station and Sadarghat Launch Terminal, reaching its peak around noon.

Most of the 46 trains that departed Dhaka were hours behind schedule.

“I do not understand why the rail authorities even bothered with a schedule when nothing was following it,” said Shafiqul Alam, a passenger of Ekota Express, which was scheduled to leave Kamalapur for Dinajpur at 10:00am but eventually left at 2:00pm.

Kamalapur Station Manager Khairul Bashir said trains were being late because of delays in passengers getting on and off the trains at stations on the way.

A carriage of Upakul Express heading for Noakhali derailed at Laksham around 6:30pm, disrupting rail communications on Dhaka-Noakhali route.

Prabhati and Mahanagar Godhuli heading for Chittagong left Kamalapur at least three hours late.

People were travelling on the roofs of trains in large numbers.

Even though launches were overcrowded and were leaving Sadarghat one after another, there was no system to stop the most-talked-about malpractices, overloading and people travelling on the roofs.

Deployment of police and magistrates proved futile in the face of the rush of people trying to get home. The BIWTA just fined two vessels Tk 30,000 for overloading at Sadarghat.

Compared to the last few days, the journey on the highways was hassle-free as there was hardly any tailback on Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Tangail highways. Traffic movement was slow on the narrow highways.

However, vehicles got stuck in a 25km jam on Gazipur-Tangail highway between Joydevpur intersection and Gorai highway in Mirzapur.

Ataur Rahman, a passenger, said his bus heading for Sirajganj went passed Gazipur at 5:00am but only managed to cover 40km until 2:00pm.

“The tedious journey has sapped all my energy and enthusiasm. I don’t know how many more hours I will stay stuck on the highway,” he said.

The situation on the road improved in the evening, reported our Gazipur correspondent.

People heading towards the south were stuck at Mawa Ferry Terminal, through which 21 southern districts are connected. Hundreds of vehicles formed a 3km queue.

Many left their buses and crossed the Padma on speed boats and launches and got on buses at Kawrakandi, reports our Munshiganj correspondent.

Launches, trawlers, and speed boats were seen carrying passengers more than twice their capacity and charging people outrageous amounts for the trip.

“I got only Tk 5,500 as salary before the Eid and had to spend almost a thousand even before reaching home,” said Halima Begum, a garment worker who was going to Faridpur from Dhaka.

Eid is celebrated to commemorate Hazrat Ibrahim’s (AS) devotion to almighty Allah as illustrated by his readiness to give up his dearest son Hazrat Ismail (AS). Well-off Muslims will sacrifice animals and share the meat with their relatives, neighbours and the poor.

Important public buildings, thoroughfares and their central reservations in the capital will be decorated with the national flag and banners inscribed with “Eid Mubarak”. Major government buildings will also be illuminated.

The main Eid congregation will be held at Jatiya Eidgah on the High Court premises at 8:30am. Special arrangements have been made so that women could take part.

Five congregations have been arranged at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, at 7:00am, 8:o0am, 9:00am, 10:00am and 11:00am. The two city corporations will also arrange 362 congregations in the city.

The public holiday for Eid begins today. Newspaper offices will also remain closed for three days from today.

Meanwhile, a section of people in Chittagong, Chandpur, Satkhira, Patuakhali, Pirojpur and Moulvibazar celebrated Eid yesterday following the calendar of Saudi Arabia.