The struggles of travelling through Airport Road
We never discuss the weather when it comes to small talk in Dhaka. Instead, we share the horrors of going through the appalling traffic that one has to tackle on a day-to-day basis. Given the current traffic conditions, it seems a bit comical that people had once romanticised the bustling liveliness of vehicle congestion in places like Old Dhaka.
In recent years, abhorrent degrees of traffic on Airport Road have become more frequent and the consequences of this have left very few inhabitants of surrounding regions unscathed. So, what exactly is causing this relatively newfound inconvenience? Apart from the usual case of the increased number of cars and vehicles on the road, the primary culprit happens to be the ongoing construction of the Bus Rapid Transit.
A government initiative taken to improve commuting service for the local people, this project has ultimately been a claustrophobia-inducing nuisance. The project's construction was inaugurated back in 2012, and it was set to be a 20-kilometre route from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Gazipur's Joydebpur that would assist the movement of the massive influx of buses through a special lane. It was meant to be completed in 2016 but rather unsurprisingly, the task is still on its way to being finished after a decade's worth of work.
While virtually none of the intended benefits of this project has been upheld since 2012, its construction has continued to make traffic congestion worse in more than just one way. Several potholes, cracks, waterlogging, and hazardous stretches of roads significantly abate daily travel. And if it happens to be raining, you are almost certainly guaranteed to find every moving vehicle along the path at a standstill. Most of the time, these small damages on the roads go unrepaired, unnoticed, or simply neglected when brought to attention.
For locals and unfortunate ones who need to travel past these routes, it can take anywhere from an hour and a half to seemingly forever in order to cover a route that should have taken no more than 30 minutes. These astonishingly quick-to-form bouts of traffic also branch into the narrower roads nearby that make going anywhere at all these days a frustrating experience.
It also does not help to know that workplace safety around the construction zone is not followed strictly, making it a hazardous route for the thousands of people who frequent it regularly. So far, there have been four accidents caused by the BRT flyover girders with the most recent one being this year when a girder fell over a moving car in the Jashimuddin Road area in Uttara.
The BRT project is estimated to be completed by June 2023. Till then, people have to hold their breaths and patiently wait for the possible resumption of bearable traveling in the capital, and fewer days with the sinking feeling one gets when they are stuck in traffic and begin to realise that it would be impossible to make it to their class or appointment on time.
Irina has discovered a newfound passion for solving crossword puzzles while she waits in traffic. Send her the toughest ones you can find at @[email protected]