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Eid Journey: Holidaymakers worried about traffic woes

As Eid-ul-Fitr approaches, thousands of homebound people are expected to face immense suffering on the road while heading towards their hometowns to celebrate with their loved ones.

The traffic jam has already begun on the exit routes from Dhaka, and experts predict it will worsen in the coming days.

The situation is exacerbated as thousands of garment workers, who work in Dhaka and surrounding areas, compete to get back home as their vacations start simultaneously with others.

Experts suggest that staggering the leave of garment workers could help reduce the congestion. Moreover, the condition of certain routes, such as the Airport-Tongi-Gazipur and Airport-Ashulia roads, is suboptimal due to ongoing construction work, contributing to the expected traffic jams.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has identified 46 spots where passengers are likely to face traffic jams during their Eid journey, with 20 of these within Dhaka or on the way in or out of the city.

Traffic jams are also expected at toll plazas of Padma Bridge, Bangabandhu Bridge, and Meghna-Ghomati Bridge. Additional traffic-prone areas include Gazipur, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, and Narayanganj districts around Dhaka, as well as other districts.

To control the congestion, the Road Transport and Highways Division plans to operate mobile courts and deploy law and order forces at these locations.

BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder stated, “We are planning to keep magistrates in two shifts at important places. There will be good order on the road.”

Mazumder explained that traffic jams are caused by various factors, such as four-lane vehicles entering two lanes, vehicles stopping during toll collection on bridges and roads, cars breaking down on the road, and markets sitting on the road.

Despite the government’s expectation that the Eid journey for 21 districts in the South and South-Western region will be smooth due to the Padma Bridge, delays in collecting tolls at its plazas and the Expressway could lead to traffic congestion.

Similar issues were faced by passengers during the last Eid as well. Passengers traveling to Cumilla and Chattogram regions crossing the Meghna-Gumti Bridge are also likely to experience delays.

To alleviate traffic congestion, the Road Transport and Highways Division is instructing an increase in booths at the toll plazas of bridges and keeping them open 24/7.

As the public holiday has been extended to five days and there is no rainy season, officials believe that the situation will be better than previous years. Additionally, goods trucks, lorries, and covered vans will be prohibited on the road for three days before Eid.

Inside Dhaka, traffic-prone areas include Mohakhali, Gabtoli, Syedabad, Gulistan, and Fulbaria bus terminals, as well as the Airport Area, Postogola Bridge, Babubazar Bridge, Bosila Bridge, Signboard Area, Abdullahpur, and the 300 feet area of the Asian Highway. These spots are the primary gateways out of Dhaka.

Strict monitoring of traffic on the highway will be conducted to ensure minimal suffering during Eid, according to Gazipur Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chowdhury Mohammad Tanvir. However, Tanvir cautioned that rain could lead to traffic jams on the highway. “Even so, we will try so that the homebound people do not suffer during Eid,” he added.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project Director Md Mohirul Islam Khan said, “Before Eid, the 2.3 km flyover from Uttara House Building to Tongi College Gate will be opened. The responsibility of the flyover will be in the hands of the traffic police. They will allow passenger traffic over the flyover if deemed necessary. Otherwise, police, BRT project vehicles, journalists, doctors, and fire service vehicles will be able to move through the flyover road.”

The ongoing development work on Elenga to Sirajganj and Elenga to Bogura roads in Tangail is another area of concern for the Road Transport and Highways Division, as they fear traffic jams on those roads.

Moreover, vehicles traveling from Gabtoli to the northern region are expected to face traffic jams at Savar, Nabinagar, Baipail, and Chandra areas, even during normal hours. The congestion is predicted to intensify during Eid.

Despite the anticipated traffic congestion, several officials of the Road Transport and Highways Division remain optimistic.

They believe that the increased public holiday duration, better road conditions compared to previous years, and absence of the rainy season will contribute to less suffering on the roads this year.

They also emphasize the importance of cooperation from the public and adherence to traffic regulations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable Eid journey for all.