Dilapidated highway hampers trade thru' Benapole port
The Jessore-Benapole national highway is currently in such a deplorable state that vehicular movement may come to a complete halt anytime, disrupting transportation of goods to and from the country's largest land port in Benapole.
Pieces of stone and bitumen are being used to fill up potholes while bricks on spots which are badly affected.
Meanwhile, the renovation attempts have created severe traffic congestion on both ends of Kobadak Bridge in Jessore's Jhikargacha upazila and at Chachra and Pulerhat in Jessore sadar upazila.
Jessore Roads & Highways Department (RHD) Executive Engineer Jahangir Alam told The Daily Star that process to float a tender was underway for a Tk 321 crore project to repair 38 kilometres of the highway.
He said incessant rains created the craters and potholes.
RHD sources said bitumen disappeared on several parts of a 23-km stretch from the Navaron crossing to Daratana in Jessore town within one year of Tk 17.10 crore-worth renovations carried out in 2013.
There have been repair attempts to maintain communication, they said.
Driver of a goods-laden truck Mosharraf Hossain said maintaining control over the steering was hard over the road while small scale accidents were occurring on and off.
Another driver Ohidul Islam of passenger bus service Sohag Paribahan said it now takes one and a half hours to travel 23 kilometres from the Navaron crossing to Jessore whereas earlier it took 40 to 45 minutes.
Matiur Rahman, chairman of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce's port sub-committee, said every day 500-600 goods-laden trucks ply through the Benapole port, which brings in about Tk 5,000 crore in revenues every year.
If the highway is not improved, import and export between Bangladesh and India through the port will be hampered, he said.