Journey home for Eid: Smoother than expected
Congestion on highways during the Eid rush has not been as bad as feared earlier with thousands leaving the capital yesterday without much trouble.
But those having to travel across the Padma and the Jamuna suffered in long tailbacks at the ferry terminals.
The journey on highways has been comparatively smoother this time partly because one or more members of many families had already left the capital for their hometowns much ahead of the Eid vacations.
However, at Paturia and Shimulia ferry terminals on the Padma river, vehicles, mostly cars and microbuses, remained stranded for hours yesterday. Tailbacks were also seen near the Bangabandhu bridge over the Jamuna river.
"I did not face tailbacks on Dhaka-Aricha highway, but had to wait for three hours to board a ferry," said Jashim Uddin, who was going to Kushtia by a car.
Since buses and smaller vehicles wait in two separate lines at the ferry terminal and there are far more cars than buses, those travelling by the latter could board the ferries within a short time.
At Paturia ferry terminal in Manikganj, almost 800 small vehicles were seen waiting for a ferry around 5:00pm yesterday.
Meanwhile, the capital's Kamalapur Railway Station remained crowded throughout the day.
A total of 122 trains were scheduled to leave the capital yesterday. Three trains were delayed by up to one and a half hours, officials said.
People going to the southern districts started arriving at Sadarghat launch terminal in the morning. As of 8:00pm last night, 95 of the 125 scheduled launches left the terminal, said Alamgir Kabir, joint director of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).
The authorities fined owners of four launches Tk 62,000 each for carrying passengers on the roof, he added.
According to transport experts, amid Covid restrictions, around 60 lakh people left Dhaka during Eid in 2020 and 2021. With the drop in Covid cases, the number of people leaving Dhaka this year would be at least 1.2 crore, they said.
During a visit to Gabtoli bus terminal yesterday, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader told reporters that the country's highways were in a much better shape than ever before, reports BSS.
He urged transport owners and labour leaders not to take additional fare from the travellers.
A number of passengers, however, alleged that transport operators were charging more.
"I usually spend Tk 650 to travel from Dhaka to Satkhira. But now all the bus operators are asking for Tk 1,000. After bargaining persistently for around three hours, I could buy a ticket for Tk 800," said Rabiul Islam at Gabtoli.
Although most of the buses operated on time, some ran late. "My bus was scheduled to leave at 11:15am. But it's around 1:00pm and the bus had not even arrived," said Sarwar Hossain, who was travelling to Chuadanga.
However, on Thursday night, tailbacks on either side of the Bangabandhu bridge sometimes stretched up to 20km.
The tailbacks forced the bridge authorities to stop toll collection from certain vehicles, said Ataur Rahman, in-charge of Tangail's Elenga Highway Police outpost.
The situation improved as the day progressed, he said.
Mohammad Jinnah, a traveller, said, "We reached Tangail from Dhaka, a distance of around 80 kilometres, within two hours. Then it took us another two hours to travel the 13-kilometer road leading to the Bangabandhu bridge," he said.
At Shimulia ferry terminal in Munshiganj, several hundred vehicles and several thousand motorbikes were seen waiting for ferries yesterday morning.
[Our correspondents from Manikganj, Munshiganj and Tangail contributed to the report]