Bumpy ride to Sylhet via Tongi-Kaliganj | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 28, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 28, 2012

Bumpy ride to Sylhet via Tongi-Kaliganj

Vehicles negotiate the large potholes on the Tongi-Kaliganj Road between Tongi and Sylhet highway. Vehicles often break down while passengers brace for nightmarish journeys every day on this narrow stretch of road. Photo: Rashed Shumon

Anyone would require some nerves of steel if he or she travels to Sylhet by road and chooses the 34-km connecting road leading to the Sylhet highway from Tongi. Large potholes dot almost the entire stretch and a vehicle bumps and jolts like a wild horse. If it's an old car, it might break down during the journey, which may pose a nightmare to those riding it.
The road is also narrow, so narrow that hardly two trucks can pass side by side. In reality, it's not even a two-lane stretch but a one-and-a-half-lane road at best. Vehicles have to get almost off the road as much as possible to avoid collision with traffic coming from the opposite direction.
To add to such sufferings, there will be long queues of traffic if a vehicle breaks down or a bus stops for long to drop or pick up passengers.
"This 34-km road takes us two hours to cross, if we are lucky," said trucker Kalam. "We drive with huge risks, especially at night," an annoyed Kalam said as his truck was stuck at Pubail Bazar.
"Our shock absorbers and constant velocity [CV] joints need frequent changes, the air filters choke because of heavy dust, and the engine needs overhaul before it is even two years old," said Kalam, who was driving all the way from Sylhet.
And this road, crucial for commuting to the north-eastern and central regions of the country, has been in this dilapidated condition for quite a few months. It seems it is nobody's child.
Roads and Highways Department (RHD) officials say there has been no proper maintenance of the road for years. There were only some sporadic repair works in the last four years. But that did little to improve the road, although the contractors' pockets got bigger and deeper, they allege.
They say a contractor was given a Tk 7.57 crore project to repair 'thoroughly' only 14 kilometres from Mirer Bazar to Ghorashal Bridge. "The reported works will begin soon," said Nahin Reza, sub-divisional engineer of RHD in Tongi.
Superintendent Engineer Shahabuddin Khan of Dhaka Zone of RHD, however, said the road is in such bad shape that only repairing will not solve the problem. "We need to expand and reconstruct the road to be able to afford the rising frequency of transport," he told The Daily Star.
He said a plan to upgrade the road into four lanes was taken up a few years ago but that remains in paper due to a fund crunch.
The road was once little used but soon got busier due to the movement of thousands of trucks, covered vans and lorries. Hundreds of passenger buses between Dhaka-Narsingdi, Dhaka-Bhairab, Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Kishoreganj also use the road.
The frequency of vehicles increases on the road due to its linkage with two national highways -- Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Sylhet -- and with the Dhaka bypass. A good number of trucks and lorries coming from Chittagong also use the road to come to Tongi and Dhaka.
Visiting the road on Tuesday, The Daily Star correspondent found that the 14-kilometre road from Mirer Bazar to Ghorashal Bridge is in a sorry state. There is no carpeting and there are no brick chips in many places, including Pubail College gate, Arikhola bus stand, Kaliganj Bazar and Daripara bus stand, where bare earth is all that is now left of the road.
Many other drivers expressed their anger over the dilapidated condition of the road. They are not ready to accept the government's excuse that the road could not be repaired due to a fund crisis.
Local residents are also prey to such poor road conditions. Frequent traffic congestion is a common scene, while dust has been causing various health hazards.
"It's very tough to stay in a roadside tea stall or shop. Everything is being polluted by dust," said Rahim, who runs a fruit shop at Daripara bus stand.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone and Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News