Vol. 5 Num 574 Fri. January 06, 2006  
Front Page

People scramble for scarce Eid tickets
Brokers rule city terminals, railway station

City dwellers preparing to go back to their village homes to celebrate the Eid-ul-Azha are facing tremendous difficulties in getting tickets for their hone bound journey by bus, train and launch a day or two ahead of the second greatest religious festival of the Muslims due on January 11.

The staffs of bus, train and launch claim that most of the advance tickets for those days have already been sold. But there are widespread allegations that brokers in connivance with a section of the staffs have 'captured' tickets, especially for luxurious buses, upper classes in trains and launch cabins for earning quick bucks.

A large number of people were seen returning from Kamalapur railway station, major bus terminals and Sadarghat launch terminal yesterday, failing to get tickets for January 8 to10.

Bangladesh Railway started giving advance tickets for Eid journey on January 1, and all the tickets for January 8 to 10 have been sold. A small number of tickets for January 6-7 are still available, railway sources said.

Shaon,20, had queued up at Kamlapur station for four tickets for his family members in the early hours yesterday but went back disappointed at 11:00 am. "I could not reach the counter even in 10 hours before the advance tickets were sold," he said. His family wanted to go to Dinajpur for celebrating the Eid.

Many passengers alleged that brokers took advantage of the situation as four tickets were sold to each person. Many brokers in the guise of passengers bought huge advance tickets and created an artificial crisis.

The railway has arranged two special trains on Dhaka-Jamalpur and Chandpur-Chittagong route before and after the Eid. It will also operate the regular train services on weekly holidays during this period.

Thousands of passengers were also seen crowding major bus terminals, including Gabtoli, Shyamoli, Kalyanpur, Syedabad, Jatrabari and Mohakhali terminals, yesterday for advance tickets only to find that tickets for seats of only rear rows in the buses for journey on January 9-10 were on sale. Tickets for January 7-8 were however available.

Many of the suffering passengers alleged that they bought tickets paying Tk 50 -100 each more than the normal fare.

Meanwhile, the government has stepped up security at the railway station and bus and launch terminals. Vigilance teams comprising officials of the BRTA, BIWTA, mobile courts and Rab personnel were patrolling these places to ensure security of passengers.

They were also trying to prevent harassment of passengers, sale of tickets in black markets and charging of extra fares.

" A complaint box has been placed at Gabtoli bus terminal but none has made any compliant so far, " said Anis Mahmud, member of a mobile court at Gabtoli.

Bus tickets were however available at Titipara terminal at Kamlapur for journey to Chittagong, Sylhet and Noakhali.

At Sadargaht launch terminal, many people were seen moving for advance tickets of cabin seats in launches but those were already sold.

Cabin booking started about a month ahead of the Eid, sources at the terminal said. Launch owners admitted booking of 70 per cent cabin seats by yesterday. They alleged that cabin booking was supposed to start today but pressure from influential people including officials of the shipping ministry changed the situation.

Brokers and middlemen were allegedly charging twice the normal fare for selling cabin seats in black market.

Badiuzzmana Badal, senior vice-chairman of Bangladesh Launch Owners Association, however denied the allegations.

The association will take action if any one is found involved in unfair practices, he claimed. He also denied allegations of operating faulty launches for carrying Eid passengers.

Additional launch services have been arranged to cope with the huge rush of passengers. The launches would quickly come back empty after unloading Eid passengers, he said when asked how the additional services would be managed.