Impossible rides stop
Transport owners yesterday suspended indefinitely the bus service on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway, citing the road has become impassable.
Cratered, the 120-km highway gets waterlogged even in moderate rain. The heavy downpour for the last few days has made things worse, as potholes at many points have turned into ditches.
This is the first time the owners have gone on strike demanding immediate repair of the highway.
Buses on 12 routes to Mymensingh, Netrakona, Kishoreganj, Sherpur and Jamalpur will be off the road until the condition improves.
Only a few trucks and private cars plied the highway yesterday. Some were seen stuck in knee-to-waist-deep water at different points.
The suspension of bus service will mean sufferings for the weekend home-goers and those who need to commute between the capital and the five districts regularly. It will also affect communications between Dhaka and part of Gazipur district.
Selim, a cloth trader in Mymensingh town, was planning to come to Islampur in Dhaka yesterday, but he had to cancel the trip, as the road link was snapped.
“We go to Dhaka at least thrice during Ramadan to buy clothes for our shops. If the road condition remains the same, we will surely make a loss in our Eid business,” he told our Mymensingh correspondent.
The condition of the road is worst at Tongi Mill Gate, Board Bazaar, Malek's Home, Bhogra Bypass and Mawna of Gazipur, and Seed Store and a few other points in Bhaluka of Mymensingh, reports our Gazipur correspondent.
“The road is simply not suitable for vehicles to run,” said Mohammad Abul Kalam, president of Mohakhali terminal transport owners association.
He added that it should not take more than two days to repair the heavily damaged portions of the highway to make it fit for at least some days. Adequate traffic personnel should be deployed to ease vehicular movement during repair work.
Meanwhile, a three-member committee led by the communications secretary visited the highway yesterday to determine what should be done to ensure uninterrupted movement of vehicles before Eid ul-Fitr.
“We will act immediately after the committee submits its report,” Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain told The Daily Star.
The ministry will also sit with the transport owners so that they withdraw the strike, he said.
Momtazuddin, president of Mymensingh transport owners association, said, “It is the failure of the communications ministry that it could not yet repair the road.”
He alleged the ministry did not disburse the maintenance funds to the contractors in time, and that is why the highway has yet to be repaired, reports our Mymensingh correspondent.
In recent months, the number of passengers has come down sharply as the usually three-hour Dhaka-Mymensingh journey now needs eight to ten hours, said Robiul Hossain Shaheen, secretary general of Mymensingh transport owners association. Besides, maintenance cost of vehicles has shot up due to the potholed highway.
Despite losses, the association had continued the service so that the public did not suffer, he added.
In Gazipur, transport owners, workers and commuters blame the district's Roads and Highways Department for the sorry state of the highway.