As people have started to leave Dhaka to spend their Eid holidays with their near and dear ones; traffic tailbacks are getting longer by the hour around country, causing hours of suffering to the homeward-bound passengers.
The Eid rush began as the last workday before Eid-ul-Fitr drew to a close on Thursday, but it really started to pick up on Friday. People started to gather at the intercity bus terminals, railway stations and launch terminals in Dhaka since morning to catch their ride home.
Many passengers who could not collect the bus and launch tickets in advance were seen crowding before the ticket counters early in the morning. At the railway stations, however, passengers who could not collect tickets simply chose to get on the train roofs.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, many of the passengers expressed worry regarding the traffic situation on the road, delay in train operations and overloading of south-bound launches.
Highways getting crowded
Up until on Friday afternoon, buses from different bus terminals in Dhaka were able to leave on schedule, but representatives of some of the intercity bus services feared that they would not be able to maintain the schedule as the day progressed.
Jashim, a counterman of Hanif Paribahan in Gabtoli bus terminal, said the buses that left in the morning were able to leave on time because they were already stationed at the terminal. But the buses that are on the way to Dhaka and will leave the city on return trips will find it hard to keep to the schedule.
“It all depends on the traffic situation on the highways. If they can enter Dhaka in time, the return trips can be arranged by the schedule,” he explained.
However, missing schedule is normal during Eid rush, said countermen of several bus services.
Selim Shikdar, an official of Shyamoli Paribahan, said traffic gridlocks were normal on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway during Eid rush. “If there are no gridlocks this year, the north- and east-bound passengers will be able to have a hassle-free journey home.”
Traffic on the highways were relatively smooth in the morning, but as the day progressed, varying degrees of traffic congestion were reported by our correspondents around the country.
A moderate congestion was created at Meghna Bridge on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway as a truck broke down in the morning, and the situation grew worse with time.
Traffic on the Dhaka-Mawa Highway was smooth, but it was slow on the roads towards northern districts.
Traffic congestion was moderate in Narayanganj and on the Dhaka-Sylhet Highway as well.
The Dhaka-Aricha Highway and various bus stands in Savar were packed with passengers and traffic, as were the bus stands of Ashulia industrial area.
There were long traffic tailbacks from Aminbazar and Radio Colony area to Nabinagar, and from Baishmail to Noyarhat area. Traffic also ground to a halt on the Baipail-Abdullapur Highway and on the Nabinagar-Kaliakoir Highway.
Passengers of a Bogra-bound bus from Dhaka said they left from Gabtali at 8:30am and reached Radio Colony at 9:15am. From there it took them almost an hour to cross Nabinagar, which is roughly 8km away.
Savar Traffic Police In-charge Abul Hossain said all factories in the industrial area were closed for Eid at the same time, leading to the immense pressure on the roads.
[caption id="attachment_71088" align="aligncenter" width="850"]
A launch leaves Sadarghat launch terminal in Dhaka on Friday, filled to the brim with holidaymakers eager to leave the city to be with their families for Eid-ul-Fitr Mahmud Hossain Opu
In Munshiganj, on both sides of the Meghna Bridge and the Gumti Bridge in Gazaria on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway, traffic came to a complete stop as the day progressed.
While the highway was upgraded to four lanes, the two key bridges remain two-lane, leading to a pair of bottlenecks within 13km of each other.
Kanchan Chowdhury, a local, said police were trying to avoid gridlocks by letting one lane of traffic onto the bridges at a time.
Gazaria police station OC Hedyaet Bhuiyan said police were trying their best to keep the traffic flowing smoothly, if not fast, through the two bridges.
“Because the bridges are narrow, there is no viable solution to this jam other than expanding the bridge. But we are trying our best – 120 policemen have been assigned to the highway,” he said.
Tailbacks grew longer at the Louhaganj and Shimulia points of the Padma River. A total of 18 ferries were seen carrying vehicles to cross the river. There was a huge line of nearly 600 vehicles to board on ferry at Shimulia ferry ghat.
An official of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) said almost half of the vehicles waiting on queue were private cars. “But we are giving priority to the passenger buses.”
Meanwhile, thousands of passengers were seen crossing the river on speed boats and launches at the ferry ghats.
Trains still on time
The authorities at Kamalapur Railway Station were able to maintain the morning train schedule.
A huge number of passengers left Dhaka on train on Friday – both in the compartments and on the roofs.
Sitangshu Chakraborty, station manager of Kamalapur Railway Station, said the Eid rush began on Thursday afternoon, it intensified on Friday morning. However, the trains were able to leave one after another without major disruption.
“Some trains were 10-20 minutes late as a massive number of passengers boarded each train, which takes time,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
“We requested the passengers not to put themselves at risk by travelling on the train roofs. But you can do little when thousands of people ignore the warnings,” he said.
Moderate crowd at launch terminal
Sadarghat launch terminal saw a moderate number of passengers in the morning when launches to closer destinations, such as Chandpur, left the terminal.
The crowd thinned after the morning launches left, before it increased again in the afternoon.
BIWTC officials at the terminal said a total of 82 launches were scheduled to leave Sadarghat on Friday carrying holidaymakers home.
Members of police, Bangladesh Coast Guard, Rapid Action Battalion and Bangladesh Ansar have been deployed to ensure security and control the crowd of passengers.
The BIWTC is monitoring the terminal via CCTV cameras and have made announcements to warn staff of different launch services to prevent overloading of the launches.
Passengers have also been requested not to get on launches that are already full.