Rush back to city chokes highways
Road transportation between Dhaka and different parts of the country -- south, west and north -- virtually collapsed yesterday, amid a huge rush of people returning to the capital from Eid vacation, due to heavy traffic creating tailbacks on roads and delayed ferry services.
Thousands of people from some 37 districts remained stuck for three to four hours on their journey in this hot and humid weather.
Although many had already returned to Dhaka after celebrating Eid in village homes, yesterday's pressure of traffic was huge as the remaining ones had to come to join work today.
Since Friday night, vehicles lined up on stretches of several kilometres at major ferry terminals like Shimulia-Kathalbari and Paturia-Daulatdia and on highways like Dhaka-Tangail.
On Dhaka-Tangail highway, a long tailback of 35 kilometres stretched from Karatia in Tangail to Chandra in Gazipur, causing severe sufferings to passengers.
Heavy rush of traffic, accidents and unfit vehicles that went out of order on roads were main reasons behind the situation, highway police officials told our Tangail correspondent.
Speaking of his sufferings, Shukanta, passenger of a bus from Bogra, said he had set out around 8:30pm on Friday, and reached Zirani in Savar on his way to Dhaka after 14 hours.
“It was unbearable. My journey took 10 more hours than it usually takes.”
Shukanta added that he had seen hundreds of vehicles remaining stuck for nearly 11 hours from Mirzapur of Tangail to Chandra of Gazipur.
Saiful Islam, driver of a Dhaka-bound bus from Rajshahi, said his vehicle had come to a halt at many points in Elenga, Rabna, Natiapara, and Mirzapur bypass and so the journey took nearly eight more hours.
Some 12,000 to 15,000 vehicles move on the highway regularly, but the number increased to over 35,000 during Eid holidays, rendering the traffic jam, said Khalilur Rahman Patwary, officer-in-charge of Gorai Highway Police Station.
Our Manikganj correspondent reports that thousands of passengers suffered while crossing the Padma river on Paturia-Daulatdia route due to heavy flow of vehicles and strong current in the waters disrupting the ferry transportation.
A five-kilometre long queue of vehicles was seen at Daulatdia ferry terminal around 4:00pm yesterday. The buses that entered the terminal on Friday night crossed the river around 9:00am the next morning.
Mohiuddin Rasel, a manager at the Paturia terminal office of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC), said ferries were taking twice the usual time to cross the river on the route due to strong current.
Due to the disruption of ferry services on Shimulia-Kathalbari route, the number of vehicles waiting at Daulatdia terminal increased, he added.
A silent extortion was continuing in the name of so-called Owners Association and Transport Workers Association at Aricha and Paturia ferry terminals, reports our correspondent. The buses that usually run on other routes were forced to pay up to Tk 500-1000 for using the terminals.
Although ferry transportation on Shimulia-Kathalbari route was gradually improving as more ferries became operational -- 17 ferries out of 21 -- after a week-long disruption due to siltation on the Padma, people were still suffering for delayed ferry services.
The ferries took twice the time usually needed to complete a trip, and those were carrying only small vehicles and passengers to avoid running aground, reports our Munshiganj correspondent.
Khaled Newaz, assistant general manager of the BIWTC at Shimulia Ferry Ghat, said the authorities continued dredging the river to restore navigability and the work would end on Tuesday.
A huge rush of people was seen on Kathalbari side of the route; Shimulia side was clearer, he said.