Dhaka airport turns into a swamp at night
Passengers passing through Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka bitterly complained about poor service at the airport on Saturday.
Inbound and outbound passengers said they experienced poor services at the airport on departure or arrival and had to wait in queues for hours to get their flights or after landing and even just simply to get a cart to transport their luggage.
Officials on the ground admitted there was a lack of coordination between government agencies working at the airport, but the recent suspension of eight-hour night flights for runway development had exacerbated passenger services.
Flight operations will remain suspended from midnight to 8 a.m. daily from December 10 and will continue until March 11 for construction work, according to a decision by airport authorities.
The Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Tourism, Mr. Mahbub Ali, admitted that the country’s largest international airport had faced a chaotic situation in recent days and that he regularly traveled to the airport for improve the situation.
New Age has spoken to around 30 passengers and service providers departing and arriving at the airport since December 2 and visited all areas accessible to passengers.
A middle-aged woman from Bangladesh who lives in Virginia and works in the Washington DC State Department was seen in the departures section before her flight on Emirates Airlines.
She was accompanied by her two police brothers and they managed to manage a cart after intense efforts for 45 minutes.
She said that she returns to the country every year to meet her family in Dhaka and Pabna but never encountered such a situation when she left.
Md Al Mamun, bound for Kuwait, arrived at Gate 1 of Departure Terminal 1 from Keraniganj hours before his scheduled flight on Saturday, but was seen rushing to Gate 6 to get a trolley.
He told New Age he had to spend 25 minutes at Gate-6 just to get a cart.
Airport officials said there were six gates on departure. Three of them are dedicated to airlines and Gate-1 to business class passengers and airport business.
The minister of state said the trolley shortage was not a new crisis.
Relevant authorities had a plan to import carts, but were unable to do so due to the Covid-19 situation, he added.
He said: “I know the suffering that the passengers go through. I will visit the airport tomorrow [Sunday] review management.
Bangladeshi-born Canadian engineer AY Zamil Anwar was fortunate enough to secure a cart with the help of his relative immediately after getting out of the car, but was seen waiting in a long line of ‘waiting to enter the airport.
Before taking off, he told New Age he had to spend three hours in six lines through security screening at the border bridge.
Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC Bangladesh, was traveling to Dubai. He said he had never seen such a situation.
His organization hired a private provider for him in exchange for money to avoid queues until immigration.
Outgoing passengers have to wait in long queues inside the terminal to authenticate their Covid19 certificates.
Airport health officials admitted they lacked manpower and cabins for their passengers, leading to long queues before a passenger could get their boarding pass .
A health department official told New Age that 12 more cabins are expected to be installed at the departure and arrival terminals.
“We have already placed our request and hope that additional staff, including medics, will be deployed,” said Shahriar Sazzad, medical officer at the airport.
Asked about the delay in authenticating the Covid-19 report, he said if they used the six departure gates, it would be easier for them to shorten the lines.
Armed Police Battalion Assistant Deputy Inspector Habibur Rahman said airport authorities are closing Arrival Terminal 1 in case a Covid19 patient is identified after arrival.
“We have informed senior officials, but nothing has changed. But passengers continue to suffer from incoming traffic, ”he added.
Passengers said they had to walk from terminal to terminal after collecting their luggage only because of the closure.
Like him, Md Humayun after traveling from Muscat said he must have spent more than two hours after landing. “What kind of service this is,” he lamented when APBn staff were seen dealing with the crowd on arrival.