Thousands suffered traffic snarl-ups yesterday due to an Awami League rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital, marking the historic March 7.
With traffic management suffering a serious setback, the party General Secretary Obaidul Quader sought the city dwellers' cooperation to make the rally a success.
“You might be suffering on the roads. But please be patient and cooperate with us in observing the historic day,” Obaidul urged during the rally.
Quader, also the road, transport and bridges minister, said they had previously rescheduled some programmes considering public sufferings.
“But there are certain days, such as March 7, February 21, March 26 and December 16 that have to be observed on the due dates,” he added.
This rally is not just a rally of the party, it is a rally for the people, the minister said.
Police made roads surrounding the venue off limits to vehicles since 11:30am. Many other roads were filled with processions brought out by Awami League men.
Throughout the day, traffic interruptions were observed in areas around Suhrawardy Udyan, as police closed down Shahbagh, Kataban, Bangla Motor, Farmgate, High Court, Mirpur, Segunbagicha, Bijoynagar, Kakrail and some other intersections to facilitate the passage of the arriving AL supporters.
This also caused severe tailbacks along Manik Mia Avenue, Mirpur Road, Karwan Bazar, Bijoy Sarani, Paltan, Moghbazar and other adjacent areas.
Buses carrying AL activists were seen parked haphazardly on the roads around the venue.
Meanwhile, talking to this correspondent at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), some relatives of patients complained about the delay in taking patients to the hospital.
Some ambulances were also seen stuck in traffic jam.
Hazera Begum, 40, who came to DMCH from Narayanganj due to a leg injury, said it took her nearly three hours to get there. Usually, it takes much less, she said.
An auto-rickshaw driver, who was carrying a patient to DMCH, said he was stuck on the road for two hours because of the traffic congestion.
Priyam Roy, employee of a private company, was going to the High Court from Farmgate. “It took me two hours to reach there,” he said while describing his ordeal.
“First, it took 30 minutes to cross Karwan Bazar intersection while the bus was diverted towards Moghbazar in Bangla Motor as police blocked the road towards Shahbagh.”
“From Moghbazar, I had to walk to the High Court as there was no other option available,” he said. “The sufferings didn't stop there. While returning, I had to walk all the way to Farmgate, which also took around two hours.”
Meanwhile, thinking that it might take more time than usual to reach his destination due to a lack of public transport, Dhaka University student Fayaz Ahmed left home around nine in the morning.
His class was supposed to start at 11:30am. He barely made it.
“It took me two and a half hours to reach the campus from Gandaria. Usually, it takes me 30 minutes.”
Parvej Ahmed, a lawyer at Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's (CMM) Court, said he found no bus near Roy Saheb Bazar intersection around 2:00pm. He was planning to go to Farmgate.
“I had to walk all the way. It was also difficult to walk as the roads were packed with people heading for the rally,” he said. It took him two and a half hours to reach his destination.
“It was a hectic day,” he said.
The situation got worse in the evening when people left offices for home.
Many, including women, children and elderly persons, suffered due to an inadequate number of public transports while others had to spend hours in the gridlocks on some key roads.
“There were few buses on the road, and most of them were over-crowded,” said Sonia Ahmed, a private-sector employee. Sonia was seen trying to get on a bus near Karwan Bazar intersection, but failed even after repeated attempts.
Those who could not board buses, started heading to their destinations on foot. Even the number of rickshaws was much less than usual on many city roads.