Monday, June 24, 2024

Dhaka-Ctg road trip turns terrible

Traffic mess, overtaking on narrow highway with numerous potholes
Vehicular traffic on 290-kilometre Dhaka-Chittagong highway has become so intense and chaotic that a journey between the capital and the port city could take as long as 15 hours.
The highway, the country’s busiest and economically most important one, appears to have a single convoy of vehicles on both sides of it all along. Every 24 hours, over 50,000 overloaded trucks, buses, and cars move each way on this road. Added to these are thousands of other vehicles including CNG or battery-run three wheelers, tractors, rickshaw vans, nosimons and bhotbhoties (improvised local automated vehicles).
Lack of maintenance and repairs for years have created potholes and even large ditches at various places of the busy highway, causing further delays and severe damages to vehicles. At places ditches have appeared on the hard shoulders, making the road lethally dangerous for motorists.
Despite having four lanes on the highway between the capital and Daudkandi, traffic congestion on it is perennial. The remaining 192.3 km two-lane thoroughfare poses some of the most challenging problems for motorists trying to reach their destinations.
With export-import rising and the number of vehicles increasing phenomenally, the on-going project for building four lanes from Daudkandi to City Gate in Chittagong may not solve the nagging problem, road users say.
The project costing Tk 2,382.17 crore is scheduled to be completed by December 2013.
“The existing four lanes from Dhaka to Daudkandi have not solved the problem mainly due to disregard for traffic laws, operation of illegal vehicles, unplanned intersections, bazars, and encroachments,” said Arifur Rahman Zillur, project director of the Four-Lane Dhaka Chittagong Highway Project.
“We can only restrict movements of slow vehicles and pedestrians on expressways, and not on a highway like this,” he said. “Here we need to have trained highway police to immediately check the chaos.”
Although a survey conducted in 2005 shows that up to 25,000 vehicles run each way of this road every day, the number has now risen to over 50,000 a day.
If vehicles on one lane get stranded behind a slow-moving one, it might take miles before the faster vehicles in the convoy are able to overtake it.
And the journey often becomes extremely sluggish, at times for hours, if an accident occurs or a local bazar extends its activities up to the main road. Officials said traffic jams occur regularly at Jatrabari, Shonir Akhra, Kanchpur, Gouripur, Mimshar Bazar, Choddogram, Mirershorai, Bhatiari, and Mohipal on the road.
The intensity of traffic is also taking its toll on the condition of the road. The entire length of the highway is now dangerously warped. At numerous places, for miles after miles the surface of the road is so uneven that it is extremely difficult for the most experienced motorists to retain control of their vehicles.
The biggest threat of accidents on the road arises when vehicles such as time-bound buses, cars, and micro-buses try to overtake slower vehicles, ignoring the situation. This keeps happening even on bridges with ascents that drastically slow down overloaded trucks, creating further tailbacks.
Traffic could queue up for miles if there is a blockade on the road even for 10 minutes. At some of the townships where bazars are situated on the road, this happens almost every day. Any fatality in an accident on the road could prompt locals to barricade it, worsening the traffic situation.
“No vehicle on this road can move with the same speed for more than a few seconds, because of the intensity of traffic on its entire stretch,” said Moslemuddin, driver of a luxury bus company.
“Four lanes will not solve the problem,” he said. “Operation of illegal vehicles and other activities obstructing normal traffic have to be stopped.”
Some other drivers said the number of trucks, especially those carrying containers with export-import cargo, is so rapidly increasing that the highway needs four lanes in each direction.
Experts mentioned that the government is trying to enforce rigorous traffic rules and clamp down on smaller unauthorised vehicles on this highway. Thousands of people earn their living by driving these vehicles.
The experts said unless there are alternative arrangements for the passengers and drivers of these vehicles, it will be impossible to stop those from using the road. Attempts to do so without any alternative measure will lead to massive protests and blockade of the highway, worsening the situation, they added.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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