Previously, it took eight to 10 hours to reach Dhaka from Comilla
Traffic congestion on the Dhaka-Comilla highway seems to have vanished like magic and commuters are now able to travel on the route in just one and a half hours. All thanks to the newly inaugurated Meghna-Gumti bridge.
While visiting different spots on the country's busiest highway, no traffic gridlock was seen at any place, though a different scenario existed on the highway, even a day before the bridge was inaugurated on Saturday at Comilla’s Daudkandi by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
While talking to Dhaka Tribune, Mizanur Rahman, a Comilla-based businessman, said he reached Dhaka's Jatrabari area on Sunday morning within one and a half hours, after starting for the capital with his family for Eid shopping in their private car.
"But a week ago, there was a different scenario on the highway," he said.
A painful traffic congestion used to prevail on both sides of the highway due to the sorry state of the existing bridges on the Meghna and Gumti rivers, he said.
At the same time, the second bridge on the Meghna river in Gazaria of Munshiganj was also opened to traffic, while two old bridges on the Gumti and Meghna were temporarily closed for renovation.
The distance from Comilla to Dhaka is around 97 kilometres. Several drivers said it would now take a maximum of two hours to travel on the route. And vehicles need not wait for long at the toll plazas of the bridges.
"So many thanks to the authorities, as we don't need to wait for long," one of the drivers said.
Previously, it took eight to 10 hours to reach Dhaka from Comilla, they said. "If there is no traffic jam, it should not take more than two hours. This will be a relief to passengers."
The second Meghna-Gumti bridge project engineer, Sheikh Sharifuzzaman, said: "These are the first steel structure bridges in the country, and the Gumti Bridge is bigger than the other one."
He said the construction work of the new 930-metre Meghna and 1,410-metre Gumti bridges was completed at a cost of Tk1,750 crore and Tk1,950 crore, respectively.
The Japanese firms were scheduled to complete the projects by June 2019, as per the contract. The government extended the deadline by six months to December 2019 after construction was halted for four months due to the Holey Artisan Bakery attack in July 2016.
Md Tazul Islam, general secretary of Comilla Bus Owners’ Association, said that traffic often crawled to a halt at the approaches to the old bridges. "Now, there is no chance of that," he added.