Commuters also suffer as 40km tailback emerges on Asian Highway bypass in Narayanganj
Construction work and waterlogging due to the rain brought Dhaka traffic to a near complete standstill on Tuesday morning.
Tailbacks on the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway stretched all the way from Gazipur to the capital as all kinds of vehicles found it difficult to navigate potholes obscured by the murky water.
Commuters said it took twice the usual amount of time for them to travel.
Meanwhile, passengers travelling through the Asian Highway bypass also had to suffer immensely as a staggering 40-km tailback emerged there.
Construction work related to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is ongoing on the highway near Tongi Station Road, Hossain Market, Cherag Ali, Sataish, Boardbazar, Chowdhury Bari, Targach, Dhaka Bypass Junction and Bhogra areas in Gazipur.
“The road from Tongi College Gate to Joydebpur is under our jurisdiction. Our work is almost at the end. We are not able to do the rest of the work at present due to a lack of bitumen (material used in road construction),” BRT Project Director ASM Ilyas Shah said.
“We have people on the road to keep the traffic flowing normally and to remove waterlogging immediately. Hopefully, we will be able to finish our work within this month,” he said.
Gazipur Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (Traffic North) Abdullah Al Mamun said there was no drainage system for the highway and the road from Gazipur to Tongi Bridge was riddled with potholes, which severely hampered traffic.
“Vehicles get stuck in potholes as drivers are unable to see them. Additionally, one side of the road is getting narrower as development work continues,” he continued.
“The traffic department is unable to control traffic on this part of the highway with its limited manpower,” added the deputy commissioner.
Shahjahan, headmaster of a primary school in Gazipur, said it took him two-and-a-half hours to cover the 12-kilometer road from Tongi to Joydebpur on Tuesday.
He said road and drainage repair work was going on in the western part of the road, but there was no discipline and insufficient manpower to keep traffic moving.
Milon Sheikh, a private ambulance driver, said it took him four to five hours to cover the 13-kilometer stretch of road from Tongi to Chandna intersection in Gazipur. The risk for patients being taken from Gazipur to Dhaka was increasing.
Zahid Alal, an official of the National Survey Department, said it took him about six hours to cover the 20km from the airport to Gazipur’s Chandna intersection on Tuesday morning.
Sanaullah, an official at Indoshore Trading in Dhaka’s Mirpur, said there had been unbearable traffic jams on the highway for the past few days due to the waterlogging and construction work.
“I don’t know when it will end. I have been traveling from Gazipur to Dhaka through an alternative route for two days. As the local train services are suspended, the sufferings of passengers going from Dhaka to Gazipur have increased,” he added.
The situation deteriorated so much on Tuesday that the traffic jam on the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway in Gazipur extended till Mohakhali.
Heavy traffic was also seen in the Farmgate area of Dhaka. A long queue of vehicles was seen from Farmgate to Khamarbari at around 11am, reports Prothom Alo.
Abdul Halim, who works in the capital’s Banani, said: “I headed out an hour earlier than on other days thinking that there would be traffic jams on the road. I got on the bus from Chandna intersection at 6am and only reached Uttara at 9am.”
The 40-km tailback
The upgrading of the Asian Highway bypass into a four-lane one led to the tailback that stretched from Narayanganj’s Rupganj upazila to Mirer Bazar of Gazipur.
Hundreds of vehicles carrying passengers and goods were stuck there for hours since morning.
Added to the situation was the demonstration by workers of an export-oriented factory, who took to the streets in the adjoining Kaliganj upazila to demand their arrears.
Sources said the traffic debacle on the road, on which thousands of vehicles ply from at least 30 districts, has been in such bad shape for the past few days.
Some passengers claimed that they travelled five times longer than usual to reach their destinations, with many accusing police of reluctance to ease the situation.
“I’ve been witnessing the situation since the morning. It seems as if the law enforcers concerned are doing nothing to remove the gridlock,” said Nuruzzaman, a local resident of the upazila.
Truck driver Tushar, who had set off for Gazipur from Chittagong, said he was caught in the traffic congestion for almost five hours till Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m yet to cross Kanchan Bridge and don’t really know when I can do it,” he said.
Kanchan traffic police outpost In-charge Inspector Zahirul Islam, acknowledging the situation, said: “The gridlock turned far worse today (Tuesday).”
Attributing the jam to the upgradation of the bypass and the workers’ unrest, he claimed that they were working hard to resolve the problem.
“But it will take some time,” he concluded.