Homegoers get stuck in tailbacks
People going to their hometowns from Dhaka to spend Eid suffered immensely due to shortage of buses, long tailbacks on the highways and delayed trains.
Tailbacks reached about 25km on Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Tangail highways at times yesterday.
Hundreds of people heading to the southern districts travelled on the flatbed of trucks and pickups paying exorbitant sums as there were not enough buses to carry them.
As the train schedules fell apart, some going to the north-western districts had to wait at Kamalapur Railway Station for seven hours.
In Elenga area on Dhaka-Tangail highway, SK Enamul Haq said, "My wife, son and I left Shyamoli [in the capital] in my car around 6:00am for my village home and I am still here on the road after more than 14 hours."
He added that the entire journey would have taken about two and a half hours if the traffic was normal.
Like him, thousands of people, including women, children and the elderly spent hours on the road in scorching heat.
Sadi Rosni Suchana, a TV presenter, told The Daily Star that her sister left for their home in Naogaon from Chattogram around noon on Thursday. "After 31 long hours on the road, the bus was only able to cross the Bangabandhu Bridge on the Jamuna."
She added that the bus had air conditioning, but it stopped working on the way.
Quader Mia, a trader from Karwan Bazar, was going to Gaibandha from Dhaka with his wife and three children. His bus left Gabtoli terminal around 11:00pm on Thursday and only reached the eastern side of Bangabandhu Bridge at 8:00am yesterday.
"The whole road is jammed. My children became sick being in the bus the whole night in this hot and humid weather. We do not have food, water, and there is no toilet," Quader told The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, cattle traders have been in fear of losing money as trucks going to Dhaka from the northern districts remained stuck in traffic.
In Tangail, Traffic Inspector Delwar Hossain said the tailbacks happened as the number of vehicles multiplied for the holidays. Some trucks going out of order in the middle of the road also created bottlenecks.
Construction work on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway has occupied two lanes of the road at multiple places between Tongi Bridge and Chandana intersection, creating bottlenecks that resulted in a 26km tailback.
Motorists said it took them over two hours to travel just about two kilometres. Congestion was most severe in Konabari and Safipur Palli Bidyut areas, they added.
Those going to the southern towns spent much less time on the roads despite the tailbacks near the Padma Bridge toll plazas. But finding a vehicle was a major challenge for them.
Pick-up and truck drivers took Tk 500 from each individual they carried from the capital's Jatrabari to Bhanga in Faridpur. Some trucks carried people with cattle.
"My mother and I had to board a pick-up … She fell sick on the way as the vehicle got stuck at a toll plaza on the expressway for 15 minutes," said Mahmud Hossain, who is a student.
In Gabtoli terminal in the capital yesterday evening, several thousand people were seen waiting for their buses that could not enter Dhaka because of congestion on the highways. Around 5:30pm, Parveen Begum, who was with her elderly mother and three children, said she had been waiting since 1:00pm.
"My mother and children have lost all energy. The transport company employees say they do not know when the bus will reach Dhaka," Parveen said.
Those travelling shorter distances paid the drivers of trucks and three-wheelers to carry them for a lot more than the usual fare. People were seen travelling on the roofs of buses.
However, river traffic was smooth yesterday: 14 launches left for Barishal with a good number of passengers. The anticipation that there would be a scarcity of launch passengers because of the Padma Bridge was proven wrong.
At Kamalapur Railway Station, as trains arrived behind schedule, hundreds of people struggled to get on board through the doors and windows. Many were seen happy to be able to climb to the rooftop.
[Our correspondents in Tangail, Gazipur, Munshiganj and Manikganj contributed to this report.]