Dhaka grinds to a halt on weekend
Thousands of city dwellers suffered long delays yesterday as they endured massive gridlocks on different city roads due to a civic rally organised by north and south city units of Awami League at the old trade fair ground in Agargaon.
The massive gathering caused traffic congestion on streets leading to the venue as leaders and activists from the AL's various affiliated bodies marched there in processions. The halt in public transportation eventually disrupted traffic flow across the street.
Major roads from Gulistan, Paltan, Shabagh, Science Lab, and Panthapath all remained gridlocked since 9:00am. Traffic almost came to a standstill on Mirpur Road, Bijoy Sarani, Farmgate, Mohakhali, Banglamotor, Elephant Road, Dhanmondi, and Green Road.
The situation worsened when people started commuting to work.
Eyewitnesses said that although the rally was on the occasion of the inauguration of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway, the suffering of commuters started earlier as ruling party supporters marched to the venue in procession from daybreak.
Meanwhile, getting to hospitals was a nightmare for many.
Jalal Hossain left Gulistan with his sick mother for Shaheed Suhrawardy Hospital at 10:30am. However, due to traffic jams, they reached the Banglamotor intersection after four gruelling hours.
"I hired a CNG for Tk 600 but we couldn't reach the hospital even by 2:30pm," Jalal said anxiously, unsure if his mother could see a doctor that day.
Awlad Hossain, who got on a bus from Gulistan, said, "It took over 4 hours to cover the short distance to Farmgate. We wasted so much time on the road, whereas it normally takes just 20 minutes."
Other commuters echoed similar frustrations over the extreme delays. Many were forced to walk long distances, with one Pavel Rahman walking from Mirpur 60 feet to Farmgate which took him three hours.
"There were no vehicles so I had to walk. I didn't know about the rally. If I had, I would've stayed home," said Pavel.
Citizens openly vented anger over the rally disrupting lives across the capital for hours.
"Ordinary people shouldn't suffer this way due to political events blocking streets," said one anonymously.