Dhaka Tribune’s correspondents on the road have reported that every journey is taking three to four times the usual time. Narrow bridges, reduced navigability on the Padma river and constant accidents and vehicle breakdowns were some of the problems facing the commuters, they said.
Our Manikganj correspondent reported that the Paturia ferry terminal was overflowing with traffic, with thousands of vehicles stuck trying to get across the Padma river, mostly private cars and buses.
The 18 ferries operating from the terminal continuously were doing little to relieve this pressure. At the terminal, the correspondent found that a large number of passengers were boarding the ferries, leaving very little room for vehicles.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation’s (BIWTC) Aricha ferry sector Deputy General Manager Sheikh Md Nasim admitted that things were going out of hand.
Cars were more numerous than buses at the terminal. According to Nasim around 2,500 vehicles were stuck on both sides. Each vehicle was waiting for about 7-8 hours to board a ferry.
On the Dhaka-Tangail highway, the administration is struggling to maintain a continuous flow of traffic. Our Tangail correspondent said the 62km from Gorai to the Bangabandhu bridge was filled entirely with vehicles that would sometimes move and sometimes become completely immovable.
Traffic officials said the Kaliakair rail over bridge, Mirzapur Dherua rail crossing and vehicles frequently breaking down on the road were making it an impossible situation. There are also not very few accidents.
“Each time the traffic stops here for a moment the truck drivers fall asleep. That means when they start moving everyone has to wake them up first,” said traffic Sergeant Iftekhar in Tangail.
“On Thursday night there were several accidents in Jarmuki and on the Jamuna bridge that worsened the situation,” he added.
One passenger, Hossain Miah, who got onto a bus from the Dhaka airport at 12:30am yesterday landed on the Tangail Ashekpur bypass some 80km from there at 7:30 in the morning.
Gorai highway police station’s Officer-in-Charge (OC) Khalilur Rahman however, claimed that traffic had not stopped anywhere on the highway.
“It is slow but we have kept it moving,” he said.
A third day of congestion
The Dhaka-Chittagong highway, which has recently been upgraded to four lanes, was completely congested for the third consecutive day yesterday.
Our Comilla correspondent said a 10-km portion of the highway in Daudkandi had been filled with vehicles since Wednesday. On both sides of the Meghna and the Gomoti bridges people are getting stuck at the same spot for hours. The Dhaka-Comilla trip is taking six to seven hours, passengers said.
Yesterday morning the traffic grew severer on the highway.
One passenger said he had left Dhaka at 10pm Thursday and reached Comilla at 4am.
Daudkandi highway police station OC Abdul Awal said because of the narrow Kachpur, Meghna and Gomoti bridges, congestion had built up on both sides of them.
“The highway and local police are trying their best to relieve the jam on the road,” he said.
Our Munshiganj correspondent reported that he found a 13km long tailback in Gazaria upazila due to heavy pressure home bound passengers. Vehicles were seen stuck in the highway and sometimes moving in a slow speed. This traffic congestion was created from the Meghna Bridge to Gomoti Bridge.
Bhaberchar highway police outpost in-charge SI Kamruzzaman Raj said even though the highway was four-lane, there were only two lanes on the Meghna Bridge.
“Toll can be paid at six booths of the bridge at a time. So when six vehicles drive into two lanes at a time it creates a massive traffic congestion there.
“Highway police and District police are trying to ease the congestion,” he added.
A large number of home-bound passengers were gathered at the Shimulia terminal to cross the Padma river yesterday morning. At least 500 vehicles were seen at the terminal. A total of 18 ferries, including five Roro (Roll On-Roll Off) ferries, were engaged in carrying the vehicles across.
BIWTC Assistant Manager (Trade) in Shimulia Md Giasuddin Patoary said: “Hundreds of vehicles were carried from the morning till noon today. Still there is a heavy pressure. A rumour that the Paturia - Doulatdiya ferry terminal is closed has brought more vehicles to this route.”
Navigability crisis has been the main challenge in carrying vehicles in time across the river, the official said.
“The ferries cannot take the main channel due to underwater chars. As a result, it is taking them an extra hour to cross the river,” he said.