• Friday, November 28, 2014

No relief on highways

Rain, terrible road conditions to upset Eid home rush

M Abul Kalam Azad
The journey of people during Eid holidays might be as troublesome as it was last year on the Dhaka-Mymensingh route. If the road is not repaired before the vacations, the worn-out surface and potholes at numerous spots will cause a bumpy ride, which means unusually extra travel time and fuel -- not to mention a long tailback. The photo was taken at Masterbari in Gazipur Sadar on Monday. Photo: Amran Hossain
The journey of people during Eid holidays might be as troublesome as it was last year on the Dhaka-Mymensingh route. If the road is not repaired before the vacations, the worn-out surface and potholes at numerous spots will cause a bumpy ride, which means unusually extra travel time and fuel -- not to mention a long tailback. The photo was taken at Masterbari in Gazipur Sadar on Monday. Photo: Amran Hossain

The millions of people who will be heading home to celebrate Eid later this month will face numerous hassles, starting with the traffic congestion at the capital's exit points.

The worn-out conditions of some highways and the authorities' inability to manage the heavy traffic are likely to make their journey a painful experience, experts and communications ministry officials fear.
Rain will further aggravate commuters' sufferings, as heavy downpours will damage the roads.
Chittagong-bound passengers are expected to face tailbacks at Kanchpur, Sonargaon, Signboard, Madanpur and Sanarpar crossings after leaving the capital's perennial congestion at Sayedabad and Jatrabari behind.  
Once they cross Daudkandi and hit the highway, their journey may turn into a nightmare.
The 192-km highway from Daudkandi is in a sorry state due to not only potholes at numerous points but also the ongoing expansion work. Dumping of construction materials and dug-up mud will force the vehicles to slow down, making the journey unusually longer.
Truck driver Jahangir said it takes him seven to eight hours to reach Feni from Chittagong due to the battered condition of the road. “But eight hours should be enough to reach Dhaka from Chittagong.”
The road from Sitakunda to Chittagong gate is in a pitiful state, reports our Chittagong office.
Relating his last year's experience, Probal Barua, who frequently travels from Dhaka to Chittagong, said the journey on the highway took up to 15 hours ahead of Eid.
The journey on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway may be the same as that of last year when it took up to 12 hours. The reasons were similar to those of this year -- potholes at numerous spots and problems caused by the ongoing expansion work.

Even if passengers overcome the hazardous stretch from Uttara to Joydevpur, they will experience a bumpy travel. Sitting in the vehicle is difficult at some points, reports our Mymensingh correspondent.
Four separate routes lead to the Dhaka-Sylhet highway. The most dreadful is the one from Tongi station towards Narsingdi. One can also use the 33-foot under-construction Purbachal road or the road from Jatrabari and Banasri to Sultana Kamal bridge. Whichever road is taken, commuters will have to negotiate the troublesome Bhulta crossing.
Amin Bazar and Savar Bazar will be the major bottlenecks for those travelling to the southern and northern districts.
The Nabinagar-Chandra road was expanded recently but both sides of it have been occupied at different points, which will slow down vehicular movement. Besides, the two-lane road from Chandra to Bhuapur near Bangabandhu Bridge will struggle to cope with the heavy traffic. Potholes at some points on the road will add to the woes of the home-goers, reports our Tangail correspondent.

However, the journey, after the Bangabandhu Bridge is crossed, is expected to be comfortable since the roads in the northern districts are in good shape.
But trips to the southern districts will be distressing. Vehicles using the Paturia-Daulatdia ferry terminal may have to wait for ferries for hours. Those heading for Jessore and Khulna will have to take the battered Kushtia-Khulna road, our Kushtia correspondent says.
A smooth ferry service through Mawa-Kaorakadi will ease movement of traffic bound for Barisal, Gopalganj and Bagerhat.
The roads connecting Barisal with other districts are riddled with potholes. The 48-km Barisal-Burgata road that connects Dhaka is in a sorry state as it has not been repaired for years, reports our Barisal correspondent.
Train and launch passengers will also suffer. Those heading for the Sadarghat launch terminal will be caught in congestion at Gulistan for hours. As for railway passengers, many of them often cannot get into the trains even after buying advance tickets as the stations and the trains remain jam-packed.
Though people do manage to cross the exit points, they will face hassles on the highways if all the roads are not repaired soon, according to Professor Shamsul Haq, a transport and urbanisation expert.
“If there is an accident or a vehicle breaks down on a road, it will create a long tailback,” said Prof Haq, who teaches at Buet's civil engineering department.
“It will become a disaster for all if it rains," he said, adding that the government should go for a sustainable solution to this problem rather than repair roads every year.
The communications ministry is in a hurry to repair the potholes and damaged parts of the highways with brickbats and sand on a temporary basis.  
The ministry has cancelled holidays for all staff of its Roads and Highways Department to keep the roads usable. It has put restrictions on a plying of trucks, save those carrying essential goods, to ease traffic movement. The expansion work of Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Mymensingh highways will remain suspended after July 20.
Communications Minister Obaidul Quader, who has been crisscrossing the country to see road conditions and development works since taking office in 2011, said all highways across the country would be in a better condition by July 20.  
On Sunday, he told The Daily Star that incessant rain and overloading were responsible for the poor state of the roads. “The situation will not be as bad as it was under the previous communications minister.”
This year, roads are in better conditions than in the past, he added.
But the latest survey carried out by the Roads and Highways Department on its 21,000-km roads contradicts his claim.
According to the survey, about 41 percent of national highways are in a bad state. Of them, 12 percent, full of potholes, are in the worst condition. 

Chittagong-bound passengers are expected to face tailbacks at Kanchpur, Sonargaon, Singboard, Madanpur and Sanarpar crossings after leaving behind the capital's perennial congestion at Sayedabad and Jatrabari.  
Once they cross Daudkandi and hit the highway, their journey may turn into a nightmare.The 192-km highway from Daudkandi is in a sorry state due to not only potholes at numerous points but also the ongoing expansion work. Dumping of construction

materials and dug-up mud will force the vehicles to slow down, making the journey unusually longer.
Truck Driver Jahangir said it takes him seven to eight hours to reach Feni from Chittagong due to the battered condition of the road. “But eight hours should be enough to reach Dhaka from Chittagong.”
The road from Sitakunda to Chittagong gate is in a pitiful state, reports our Chittagong office.
Relating his last year's experience, Probal Barua, who frequently visits from Dhaka to Chittagong, said the journey on the highway took up to 15 hours ahead of Eid.
The journey on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway may be the same as that of last year when it took up to 12 hours. The reasons were similar to those of this year -- potholes at numerous spots and problems caused by the ongoing expansion work.

Even if passengers overcome the hazardous stretch from Uttara to Joydevpur, they will experience a bumpy travel. Sitting in the vehicle is difficult at some points, reports our Mymensingh correspondent.

Four separate routes lead to the Dhaka-Sylhet highway. The most dreadful is the one from Tongi station towards Narsingdi. One can also use the 33-foot under-construction Purbachal road or the road from Jatrabari and Banasri to Sultana Kamal bridge. Whichever road is taken, commuters will have to negotiate the troublesome Bhulta crossing.
Amin Bazar and Savar Bazar will be the major bottlenecks for those travelling to southern and northern districts.
The Nabinagar-Chandra road was expanded recently but both sides of it have been occupied at different points, which will slow down the vehicular movement. Besides, the two-lane road from Chandra to Bhuapur near Bangabandhu Bridge will struggle to cope with the heavy traffic. Potholes at some points on the road will add to the woes of the home-goers, reports our Tangail correspondent.
However, the journey after crossing the Bangabandhu Bridge is expected to be comfortable since the roads in northern districts are in good shape.
But trips to southern districts will be distressing. The vehicles using Paturia-Daulatdia ferry terminal may have to wait for ferries for hours. Those heading for Jessore and Khulna will have take the battered Kushtia-Khulna road, our Kushtia correspondent said.
Smooth ferry service through Mawa-Kaorakadi will ease movement of traffics bound for Barisal, Gopalganj and Bagerhat.
The roads connecting Barisal with other districts have many potholes. The 48-km Barisal-Burgata road that connects Dhaka is in a sorry state as it has not been repaired for years, reports our Barisal correspondent.
Train and launch passengers will also suffer. Those heading for Sadarghat launch terminal will be caught in congestion at Gulistan for hours. As for the train passengers, many of them often cannot get in trains even after buying advance tickets as the stations and the trains remain jam-packed.
Though people manage to cross the exit points, they will face hassle on highways if all the roads are not repaired soon, Professor Shamsul Haq, a transport and urbanisation expert.
“If there is an accident or a vehicle breaks down on a road, it will create long tailback,” said Prof Haq, who teaches at Buet's civil engineering department.
“It will become a disaster for all if it rains," he said, adding that the government should go for a sustainable solution to this problem rather than repairing roads every year.
The communications ministry is in a hurry to repair the potholes and damaged parts of the highways with brickbats and sand on a temporary basis.  
The ministry cancelled holidays of all staff of its Roads and Highways Department to keep the roads usable. It put restrictions on plying of trucks, save those carrying essential goods, to ease traffic movement. The expansion work of Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Mymensingh highways will remain suspended after July 20.
Communications Minister Obaidul Quader, who has been travelling across the country to see road conditions and development works since taking office in 2011, said all the highways across the country would be in a better condition by July 20.  
On Sunday, he told The Daily Star that incessant rain and overloading are responsible for the poor state of roads. “The situation will not be as bad as it was during the previous communications minister.”
This year, roads are in better conditions than in the past, he added.
But the latest survey done by the Roads and Highways Department on its 21,000-km roads contradicts his claim.
According to the survey, about 41 percent national highways are in a bad state. Of them, 12 percent are in the worst condition with full of potholes.

Published: 12:02 am Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Last modified: 9:28 pm Wednesday, July 16, 2014

TAGS: Traffic congestion millions of people celebrate Eid face numerous hassles Kanchpur Sonargaon Singboard Madanpur Chittagong-bound passengers

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