The Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu highway turns into a nightmare every Thursday. Due to Friday and Saturday being government holidays, the route takes an excessive amount of pressure. The massive congestion is caused by an excessive number of vehicles, constant overtaking, vehicles travelling at high speed and reckless driving. Cargo trucks start using the highway to transport materials after dark and add to the chaos.
Due to the gridlock on the highway bridge, highways nearby cannot function normally. If an accident occurs, cleaning that up takes a lot of time and the traffic congestion intensifies. The massive gridlock starts every Thursday evening and often goes on until Friday noon. On weekdays, it takes between two and two and half hours to make the journey from Dhaka to Tangail. But on weekends, the time spent on this highway often exceeds four or five hours.
Authorities say the condition will improve once the construction of the four-lane project is completed by Ramadan next year.
Sabbir Ahmed has to travel from Dhaka to Tangail on the weekends for business purposes. He said that he often has to stay stuck on the highway for hours on end. It sometimes takes five to six hours to reach his destination.
A passenger on Jhatika bus said: "It is annoying to sit in this terrible traffic for so long. I cannot reach my destination in time, I cannot get my work done. It does not seem like the suffering will end until the construction of the four-lane project is complete."
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Construction on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway serves to worsen traffic congestion until it is completed Dhaka Tribune
Truck driver Kamrul Hossian said: "Construction work is taking place on the highway. There is a lot traffic pressure near the bridge. Sometimes they bar one side and tell us to go through another side."
He added that the vehicles all try to go at once and create even more traffic congestion when that happens.
Accidents on the Dhaka- Tangail Highway
Approximately 15 thousand vehicles use this highway every day. The highway has two lanes right now, with a project to expand it into a four-lane highway underway.
The highway has seen its fair share of accidents through the years since its inauguration. Indeed, some terrible accidents have taken place on it.
On December 28, 2008, a truck filled with iron rods crashed into a ditch in Tangail sadar upazila's Gharinda by-pass highway, killing 25 people. The same year, on April 19, a bus on the way from Kurigram lost control and fell on a nearby rail-line. The incident killed 18 and 55 people were injured.
On February 18, 2010, Pannee Likanajule, a counsellor of the Thai embassy in Dhaka, was killed on Mirzapur Chorpara near the Dhaka- Tangail highway. She was returning from the Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn's Gaibandha tour, when a truck carrying bricks and rods in the opposite direction collided with her microbus.
What the authorities are doing
The highway has seen huge tailbacks during Eid for the last few years. The construction of a four lane highway upgrade, which has long been demanded by drivers, bus and truck owners, and even police, finally began in September 2015.
Mirzapur Gorai highway police Officer-in-Charge Kholirur Rahman said: "On Thursdays, the pressure increases due to people returning home from Dhaka. We finish up work on one side of the lane, open that up and start work on another side. The vehicles face problems running under these circumstances. The condition will improve once the construction of the lanes is finished."
The officials in charge of the Dhaka-Tangail- Bangabandhu highway four-lane conversion project assured that travelers will not have to suffer for long. They are hopeful that they will start the four lane system before Ramadan next year.
Deputy Project Manager Sheikh Mohammad Shaharul Amin said: "The work is 55 percent complete. We are making progress each day. The project is scheduled for completion in March, 2019. We are hoping the project will be completed on time. We are going to work on the new lanes as well as the old lanes of the highway. The work will be done by next Ramadan. There will be no traffic congestion after that."