It was a traffic nightmare around Bashundhara City shopping mall in the capital yesterday.
With people flooding in to the mall, one of the biggest and busiest in the capital, to do their Eid shopping on the weekend, traffic management virtually collapsed on all the roads and alleys around.
Impatient honking by cranky drivers, angry cries of police officers, and desperate jostling and frequent cursing by annoyed pedestrians marked the scenes on the Farmgate to Ruposhi Bangla stretch of Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, the entire stretches of Panthapath, Garden Road and Green Road, and at Sonargaon Intersection throughout the day since midday.
"I have been waiting right here for about an hour to enter Panthapath road. I have an apportionment with a doctor on Green Road. I am running behind the schedule," said motorist Shamsul Islam at Sonargaon intersection.
"When I first tried to turn to Panthapath from the direction of Farmgate, traffic police asked me to go straight and make a U-turn from Ruposhi Bangla intersection. Now when I did that, they are refusing to let any vehicle enter the stretch," he said helplessly.
Such sudden changes in traffic management fretted many others like Shamsul.
Take Bashirul Haque, who was trying to get to Bashundhara City on Panthapath with his family for Eid shopping. But he was made to drive around the Sonargaon intersection, a few yards from the mall, for over an hour.
"We were not allowed to turn to Panthapath from Sonargaon intersection and diverted to Ruposhi Bangla intersection. And now when we've driven all the way around, we're again stopped here," he told this reporter from inside his car stuck at blocked entrance to Panthapath.
Things were even worse for those commuting on public buses, crammed with passengers and stuck for hours in long tailbacks in sweltering heat.
While many passengers, tired of sweating and waiting inside the buses, chose to get off and walk to their destinations, those who wished to catch one had to wait unusually long.
"I am waiting here for around 45 minutes for bus. I am fasting and tired … I really don't know what the traffic police are doing," said Rumana Akhtar Rikta at Sonargaon Intersection.
SOME MATTER MORE THAN OTHERS
To ease the traffic chaos, police put up diversion signs blocking entry to Panthapath from Sonargaon Intersection and to Garden Road that leads to the rear entry of Bashundhara City, a move that many have termed arbitrary.
It resulted in a mess at Sonargaon intersection as a few hundred vehicles, intending to take the Panthapath road, from the directions of Ruposhi Bangla intersection and the FDC were forced to wait in long queues.
However, the traffic management measures were not so strict for some people.
A number of vehicles belonging to police and government officials were seen parked on the main carriageway in front of the shopping mall -- a no parking zone -- blocking vehicular movement on the Panthapath from Green Road direction throughout the afternoon.
When a car was barred from entering Panthapath at Sonargaon intersection around 5:00pm, a man emerged from vehicle. Identifying himself as a Lieutenant Colonel of Bangladesh Army, he demanded the on-duty police officers to let him in.
Having failed to persuade the man, assistant police commissioner Razib, who was at the spot, at one stage removed the diversion barricade and angrily said: "All of you, go as you wish … You will be held responsible if the road gets congested."
Soon after, a private car (Registration No.: Dhaka Metro Ga-35-0206) came from Farmgate direction through the wrong lane.
As police stopped the vehicle, a female passenger stepped out. She called high official of police, who apparently was her relative, and handed the phone to Traffic Inspector Khadem. After a brief conversation, he let the car pass without saying anything more.
On Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, police were refusing to let vehicles enter Garden Road, which was already packed with cars, rickshaws and pedestrians to and from the mall.
They, however, let one car in around 4:45pm when the owner of the vehicle identified himself as a "retired lieutenant colonel" of the army.
Traffic Inspector Khadem said, "Basundhara City can accommodate maximum 600 vehicles at a time. But around 2,000 more vehicles wait in queues on the roads around to enter the mall, particularly during the peak hours … As a result, traffic in the entire area collapses."