Trouble in Tongi, beyond

With every Eid comes a concern: How to get home?

Almost every time, the holidaymakers go through nightmarish experience on highways, thanks to traffic jams caused by poor road conditions and traffic management.

The sufferings, however, are likely to ease a little this year as some new bridges and flyovers on Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Tangail highways have opened.

Still, chokepoints may trouble the home-goers who will start leaving Dhaka on May 30. It would be more difficult if it rains or the authorities fail to control traffic properly.

Eid-ul-Fitr is expected to be celebrated on June 5, and there will a longer Eid vacation of nine days if the government declares June 3, the only workday in the week, as holiday.

People of the northern and north-eastern regions may be the worst sufferers as the 13km stretch from Tongi Bridge to Joydevpur Chowrasta on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway is likely to witness severe jams due to the ongoing work of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The officials involved also expressed concern over the situation of this part.

The holidaymakers of southern districts may not get respite from congestion at Paturia-Daulatdia ferry ghat. It is because hundreds of buses would queue up for only 20 ferries.

Those taking Dhaka-Mawa highway would face problems due to the development work along the highway and at Shimulia-Kathalbari ferry terminals.

The Daily Star visited some highways and talked to transport experts, road safety campaigners, bus operators, drivers and passengers, to get a picture of the key points on five national highways where gridlocks might occur.

Campaigners, bus operators, and passengers say unplanned intersections and illegal roadside markets will be a cause of concern.

Besides, thousands of unfit and overloaded vehicles would hit the streets ahead of the festival. Many of them may break down in the middle of the road, creating tailbacks.

The ministries of home, and road transport and bridges have sat with stakeholders, including police and transport owners and workers, several times and taken steps to make the Eid journey smooth and safe.

The National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways says around 1.47 crore people would leave Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj before Eid.

Of them, 55 percent would use the highways, 25 percent waterways and 20 percent railways, the non-government organisation said based on official and private estimates.

Ashis Kumar Dey, general secretary of the organisation, said the journey home would begin on May 30 and continue till June 4.

“Handling the rush in the six days is difficult. Our transport system does not have the capacity either. So, none can assure there would be no sufferings during Eid.”

Apart from this, there remains the possibility of bad weather and waterway accidents, he said, urging the authorities to attach top priority to proper management.

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