‘Free movement’ of speedboats amid strict lockdown
Published: 04:41 PM, 28 July 2021
Laharhat Ghat in Barishal
Today (Wednesday, July 28) has marked the 6th day of the government-announced strict lockdown to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak. Despite the strict efforts of the administration and law enforcement agencies across the country to implement the government directives, a different image has been seen in Laharhat of Barishal.
Speedboats are plying freely at Laharhat Ghat without heeding the restrictions. Passengers are being carried in these boats violating the hygiene rules and the extra fare is being taken. Small and big accidents are happening every day due to carrying extra passengers. Yet the reckless movement of these speedboats is not stopping.
A Bhola-bound passenger named Alam from Laharhat launch ghat said he cannot “breathe” when covering his nose, mouth with a mask. “I can’t breathe. So, I nominally wearing a mask,” he added.
Another named Sabbir said his house is in Bhola, however, his workplace is in Kaunia of Barishal. “I have to go home in the lockdown for emergency work.”
It has been learned that thousands of Southern people were being held hostage by unskilled speedboat drivers. By harassing the passengers, they collect extra fare and carry twice the capacity. Russell, the lessee of the ghat, controlled the cycle.
The entrance fee to the ghat is Tk 3 as per the rule, but the passengers are charged with Tk 10. If someone protests, they have to be harassed. As a result, passengers are traveling day after day with an extra fare.
Russell, the lessee of the Laharhat Ghat, said he is charging people as per the government rules. Naval police, coast guards were deployed during the lockdown. Several speedboats are plying in Bhola, Hijla and Mehendiganj to “carry the patients”. No boat is carrying more than 6-7 passengers.
Barishal Metropolitan Police’s Bandar Police Station OC Asaduzzaman said legal action would be taken if the speedboat was operated without urgency, violating the government instructions. “Violation of hygiene rules will not be exempted,” he added.
Barishal river port official Mostafizur Rahman said action would be taken if there was evidence of a violation of government restrictions. No boats will be allowed to carry general passengers amid the lockdown.