Tangail, a town of traffic jams
Acute traffic jams have turned the lives of the Tangail city dwellers miserable, thanks to lack of necessary roads and poor planning and management of the authorities concerned.
Increased population, encroachment on roads and footpaths and establishments without parking spaces and plying of a large number of auto-rickshaws are the reasons behind the traffic jams.
Several illegal auto-rickshaw stands at different spots make the situation worse, causing sufferings to the people, said locals.
Besides, pedestrians find it very hard to walk around in the city due to a lack of separate walkways and foot-over bridges.
Meanwhile, most of the free spaces in the town have been occupied for construction of different structures, including commercial ones, in the name of "development".
Conscious residents fear that the town will become unliveable within a few years.
There are around 10,000 legal battery-run auto-rickshaws and as many illegal ones in the town, creating traffic jams on New Bus Terminal-Mymensingh Road, Old Bus Stand to Baby Stand Road and Nirala Intersection to Zila Sadar Road.
The traffic system was first hampered when the municipality constructed Poura Super Market in place of the Old Bus Stand during the '80s, narrowing the Zero Point and Mymensingh Road, several senior citizens said.
In 2003, the municipality constructed several markets in the middle of the town from Old Bus Stand to Nirala Intersection, making the main road even narrower, they added.
Vehicles going to important offices including those under civil and police administrations and courts from northern Tangail face long tailbacks in the New Bus Terminal area as different types of vehicles like buses, trucks, three-wheelers, rickshaws and motorcycles use the same road.
Lack of sufficient space for turning vehicles adds to the situation.
Vehicular movement from Dhaka to the northern districts through Tangail town saw an overwhelming rise after construction of Bangabandhu Bridge on the Jamuna River in 1998.
The town bypass was constructed to facilitate movement of such vehicles but long route passenger buses often move through the main town and stop at places to take passengers and let others get down, adding to the traffic jam, said locals.
Most of the important roads in the town do not have footpaths, while the few footpaths which are there mostly remain under the occupation of vendors, said Mahmudul Hasan, a town dweller.
A good number of high-rise buildings and big markets have been constructed in an unplanned manner in the town during the last few years, he said, adding these structures built abruptly on roads have increased the traffic jams.
Although most of these buildings have parking spaces, these are often used for other purposes; while the vehicles, including the vehicles of government officials, political leaders and powerful people, are parked on the adjacent roads, causing problems to vehicular movement, said Saiful Islam, a rights activist in Tangail.
"The number of cars and auto-rickshaws plying in the town is much higher than the capacity of the existing roads. Most of the auto-rickshaw drivers hardly care about traffic rules."
"The municipal authorities give registration to the battery-run auto rickshaws after taking huge amounts of bribes," Saiful alleged.
Delwar Hossain, traffic inspector in Tangail, said they have to struggle a lot on weekdays to keep the town free from traffic jams.
Echoing the same, Biplob Sabur Khan, a prominent workers' leader and owner of a market in the town, said, "The municipality was established in 1887. A municipality should have a master plan comprising proper traffic management systems."
Contacted, SM Sirajul Haque Khan Alamgir, mayor of Tangail municipality, said the municipality is widening the important Zila Sadar road and the traffic jam situation will be reduced after completion of the works.
He said they backtracked from the original decision of banning three-wheelers on humanitarian grounds, considering the poor economic condition of the drivers.
"However, steps will be taken to remove the illegal easy bikes soon and also necessary other steps, including freeing the footpath from the grabbers will be taken to reduce the problem," he added.