Transport system in the capital and other parts of the country collapsed yesterday as thousands of students demonstrating for reforms in the civil service quota system blocked key points in the capital and major highways.
Commuters remained stuck for several hours in their vehicles on city roads and highways amid sweltering heat.
Protestors barricaded Dhaka-Mymensingh rail line in Mymensingh for over six hours and blocked the railway track of Chittagong University's shuttle train for hours, snapping rail communication on those routes.
The capital remained cut off from the rest of the country as major highways connecting the capital with other parts were blocked by the students to press home their demand.
In different parts of the capital, patients struggled to reach hospitals even in ambulances. Parents stuck on roads were worried about picking up their children from schools. Many had to walk for miles, leaving their cars and other transports.
Many private offices in the capital called it a day hours before the scheduled time given the terrific situation.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, who was scheduled to attend question-answer session at the beginning of the parliament session, was late by 20 minutes due to traffic jam.
He later informed the House that it took him two and a half hours to reach parliament from the secretariat, just about 6km apart.
Since 10:00am, thousands of students of public and private universities and colleges took to the streets at different points in Nilkhet, Azimpur, Sukrabad and Dhanmondi, Shyamoli, Shewrapara, Agargaon, Farmgate, Rampura, Badda, Green Road and Uttara.
Abdur Rahim, 40, and his colleague Rezaul Karim, 35, suffered severe injuries when a CNG-run auto-rickshaw hit their motorbike at Bijoypur in Comilla yesterday morning.
As doctors referred them to Pongu Hospital in Dhaka after primary treatment, their colleague Shafiqul Islam rushed them to the capital in an ambulance.
“We were caught in a gridlock in the middle of Hanif Flyover around 12:15pm. From there it took us two hours to reach Pongu Hospital by the ambulance,” Shafiqul told The Daily Star.
By the time, their conditions worsened, he added.
Dhanmondi Businessman Shaad Hussamuddin accompanied his son, a first-semester student of BRACK University in Mohakhali, as his son was to attend an examination.
As Daffodil International University students blocked the road at Shukrabad, the two walked up to Manik Mia Avenue. They then took a rickshaw but had to leave it before it reached Farmgate, as Tejgaon College students were blocking the road.
He said he crossed the road and took a CNG-run auto-rickshaw and was forced to leave it in front of Government Titumir College.
It took Shaad over five hours to reach the university and return home.
Some roads in Old Dhaka were blocked by Jagannath University students.
“I have been waiting for nearly two hours in the bus in sweltering heat in Rampura. I do not know when I would reach Uttara,” said Jahirul Islam, 60, who came from Laxmipur to visit his daughter.
Several hundred students of East West University put up a bamboo barricade and sat on Pragoti Sarani blocking the road.
Students of the University of Asia Pacific took position at Green Road, students of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University at Agargaon, students of Green University on Begum Rokeya Sarani at Shewrapara, students of seven affiliated colleges at New Market intersection and Azimpur, students of University of Liberal Arts on Satmasjid Road and students of North South University at Bashundhara.
Outside the capital, thousands of students blocked Dhaka-Aricha highway in Savar and Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Uttara, disrupting traffic movement to and from the city.
Traffic was also halted on Dhaka-Rajshahi, Dhaka-Barisal, Barisal-Bhola, Barisal-Borguna, Barisal-Patuakhali and Barisal-Kuakata highways.
Students of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) barricaded Dhaka-Mymensingh rail line on the campus for around six and a half hours from 11:00am.
Johirul Haque, superintendent of Mymensingh Railway Station, said following the blockade several local and intercity trains were stranded at various stations.
The shuttle train service from Chittagong University was suspended from 9:30am till evening as around 5,000 students converged on Sholoshohor Railway Station and barricaded the track.
Vehicular and train movements resumed around 6:30pm after the students suspended their demonstration following prime minister's announcement that the quota system would be abolished.