A double-decker stops in the middle of Shahbagh intersection to drop off and take on passengers halting the traffic flow behind. Photo: Rashed Shumon
Shahbagh intersection is a place where the city's traffic flow often comes to a halt, eating up precious travel time and escalating the sufferings of city dwellers.
Buses tend to pick up and drop off passengers haphazardly at the intersection, often blocking the four important streets of the junction.
Instead of stopping at the designated bus stops on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue and Shahbagh Road, buses stop at the turns to pick up and drop off people.
Russel, a conductor of Best Transport that runs between Jatrabari and Mirpur, told The Daily Star that they stop at the turn because they get more passengers.
Md Abdullah Haider, traffic sergeant at the Shahbagh intersection, said on Wednesday morning he had filed cases against 13 buses for stopping at wrong places.
"But we don't interfere during the office [rush hours] hours in Ramadan, because everyone is in a hurry. If we stop vehicles for violating the rules, it will create long tailbacks and people will get irritated," he said.
Three constables and a sergeant control traffic at this busy intersection in two eight and a half hour shifts from 6:00am. Like the buses, rickshaws and jaywalkers care little about traffic rules.
Even though rickshaws are not allowed to go beyond the Public Library, in reality, they cross the intersection when the signal turns green.
After rush hours during Ramadan, the traffic team also tends to overlook vehicles using wrong side of the road.
University buses, cars, government staff buses often create congestion by blocking the left turn near the flower shops.
Buses are in all lanes at Shahbagh making the congestion even worse. Photo: Rashed Shumon
Asked why he was on the wrong side of the road, driver Md Zahid of a student bus said, "Everyone is doing this." Another motorist and a driver of a government official also gave the same reason for breaking the rule.
However, neither the rule-abiding vehicles nor the rule-breaking ones could avoid the long wait at the intersection to get through.
It is not only vehicles that break the rules. Pedestrians are often seen crossing the intersection under the footbridge built for their convenience.
Sania Nur was jaywalking from Birdem towards the flower shops in Shahbagh Wednesday afternoon.
When asked, she said, "The footbridge is somewhat far from the intersection and beggars and hawkers occupy it. I feel insecure using it."
She was of the opinion that the location of the footbridge was not convenient.
The wait to cross the intersection in rush hours is a long one.
"It took me an hour to reach the first gate of BSMMU [Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University] from TSC," said Abul Kalam Azad, a CNG auto-rickshaw driver.
He picked up a passenger from Nawabpur at 2:00pm and was still stuck in front of BSMMU at 4:00pm. "Only the Almighty knows if I can make it to Gabtoli before iftar," he said.