The dilapidated Comilla-Sylhet highway, an important road for trade between Bangladesh and India through Akhaura land port, has turned hazardous for motor vehicles.
The highway, which plays a vital role in the economy of the region by linking adjacent districts, did not undergo any major repair work in the last seven years, locals alleged.
According to Brahmanbaria Roads and Highways Department (RHD), the highway was built in 1964 and around 18,000 vehicles ply it every day.
A 42-km portion of the highway from Kasba upazila headquarters to Sarail Bishwa Road has developed big holes and cracks at different points due to recent excessive rainfall.
A 3.8-km portion of the road from Ramrail to Poniout in Sadar upazila has been in deplorable condition for the last one week. Half of the 18-foot-wide road has been dug up for upgrading of the National Highway, disrupting vehicular movement.
Vehicles ply the road in Badhugarh Molla Bari area with great difficulty as the road is covered with thick mud.
During a visit to the highway recently, this correspondent saw a long line of vehicles stranded at Sadar upazila due to closure of the highway.
A 20-km portion of the road from Ujanishar to Poniout is full of potholes, which makes the journey for the elderly people and pregnant women a nightmare.
People from Sarail, Sadar, Akhaura, Bijoynagar, Kasba upazilas of Brahmanbaria and Brahmanpara, Burichong, Debidwar, Muradnagar and Sadar upazilas of Comilla district use this route to travel to Brahmanbaria, Comilla, Sylhet, Chittagong, Kishoreganj and Mymensingh, among others.
Truck driver Harun Bhuiyan said he was on the way to Chittagong from Sylhet on Thursday with 350 baskets of malta when he came across a number of potholes full of rainwater, which made the road narrower.
Azhar Islam, a college teacher and resident of Basudeb village, said the condition of the road is quite miserable from Ramrail to Kawtuli area and it is very difficult to cross it.
“It normally takes half-an-hour to cross the 21-km-long road, but at present it takes two hours or more,” said Ziaul Karim, a school teacher in Akhaura and a resident of West Medda of Brahmanbaria town.
Sub-Divisional Engineer of Brahmanbaria RHD Amir Hossain said repair of the 3.8 km road from Ramrail to Poniout area has started at full swing and will take six months to finish.
Executive Engineer of Brahmanbaria RHD Abu Ehtesham Rashed said the rain during the last week damaged the road to a great extent. He added that the government has allocated Tk 34 crore to develop the 3.8 km road from Ramrail Bridge approach to Poniout bus stand area in the town.