Buses from Jhigatola take turn en route to Elephant Road, creating traffic chaos at Dhanmondi-3 turning in the capital around 2:00pm yesterday. Photo: Anisur Rahman
Two turning points within a stretch of less than 50 yards in Science Laboratory-City College area on Mirpur Road have become a sheer nightmare for commuters with appalling tailbacks throughout the day.
Four of the city's busiest markets -- New Market, Gawsia, Chandni Chawk and Dhanmondi Hawkers Market -- bustling with Eid shoppers in Ramadan are located near this stretch, worsening the traffic congestion that often lead to tailbacks stretching by a few kilometres.
As shoppers crowd these markets, long snarls are created on all four roads -- one going south towards Azimpur, one to Kalyanpur to the north, Dhanmondi road-2 on the west and Elephant Road on the east -- around this stretch.
On Wednesday afternoon, it took Akhtaruzzaman, driver of an intra-city bus on the Mirpur-Azimpur route, three hours to reach Nilkhet from Mirpur-12, a distance which otherwise takes around a hour.
"Due to immense tailbacks, I had to spend about one and a half hours just to cross the area from Kalabagan to Nilkhet, about a 15-minutes' drive only," said Akhtar.
CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver Mamunur Rashid felt the impact of the traffic pressure from as far as Matshya Bhaban, around two km from Science Lab area. "It took me two hours to arrive at Elephant Road from Matshya Bhaban," he said.
Commuters on Motijheel-Science Lab-Mohammadpur route will also suffer for this.
"Crossing Shahbagh intersection from Matshya Bhaban took one and a half hours and about one more hour to reach Elephant Road," said Dip Ali, assistant of a city bus plying the Motijheel-Mohammadpur route.
"The road between New Market and Gawsia-Chandni Chawk remains occupied by shoppers, rickshaws and private cars and is difficult to clear. As a result, huge snarl-ups are created on Mirpur Road," said Masud Rana, traffic sergeant of Nilkhet Zone of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
He said the congestion during peak hours takes such a horrible state that vehicles to Nilkhet would remain stranded on the road from Dhanmondi Road-3 near Science Laboratory intersection to as far as the Gono Bhaban, the official residence of the prime minister.
"We have to wait at least 10 minutes to give the green signal for the vehicles heading towards Nilkhet," he added.
Masud said vehicles from Dhanmondi use both Road-2 and Road-3 to get on Mirpur Road often obstructing traffic from Azimpur direction and creating unwanted tailbacks all around.
"If the vehicles would use only Dhanmondi Road-2 and then take a U-turn to the opposite lane of Mirpur Road, it would reduce the congestion during peak hours," he suggested.
Commuters, however, also blamed public buses for using "too much space" while taking the U-turn at that point.
They suggested that steps be taken so that the buses stay in a single lane while doing that.
Though there is a separate lane for rickshaws to travel between Dhanmondi and New Market and Nilkhet, many rickshaws ply the main roads, violating traffic rules.
"We take chances whenever we see the traffic police a little relaxed and use the main road because the rickshaw lane is usually packed with rickshaws," said Masud Alam, a rickshaw puller.
Then again there's illegal parking. Long rows of private cars are found parked on both sides of the road here throughout the day.
And of course, like all other areas, public buses use the entire stretch between Science Laboratory-City College and New Market intersection to pick up and drop off passengers, worsening the already troubled traffic there.
"We know picking passengers from the middle of the road creates tailbacks. But we do it to increase our income," said an assistant of a city bus.
Sergeant Masud said though eight to 10 cases are filed a day against the violators of traffic rules, it does not yield much result.