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Highways turn death trap

Eid holidaymakers worried about safe journey

 Eid holidaymakers worried about safe journey
photo by NN Photo

The condition of highways all over the country is in a sorry state.

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10th-Jun-2018       
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Staff Reporter :
Dilapidated condition of highways and intra-district roads with countless potholes due to poor quality repair, illegal occupation of roadsides spaces and four-lane development works has made the holidaymakers worried about their safe journey during the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr.
Ramshackle condition of Dhaka-Tangail, Dhaka-Mymensingh, Dhaka-Chattogram and Jashore-Khulna highways, deteriorated by rainfall, has created a dark shadow over the joy of the home going commuters to perform the holy occasion with their near and dear ones.
At least 27 percent roads of the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has been reported in a very bad condition for long due to absence of required maintenance by the authorities concerned, it was alleged.  
According to the Annual Maintenance and Rehabilitation Needs Report 2018-19 of RHD, at present about 27 percent national and regional highways and inter-district roads are in a poor to very bad condition, especially in Rajshahi, Khulna and Dhaka areas.
It surveyed 17,976 km of roads of the RHD's total network of 21,481 km for roughness from November 2017 to January 2018.
The survey shows that about 54 percent highways and roads are in good condition, 20 percent in fair, about 12 percent in poor, about 6 percent in bad and about 9 percent in very bad condition.
Dhaka-Tangail highway that connects 22 northern districts with capital Dhaka, port city Chittagong and Sylhet via Bangabandhu Bridge, is now in very poor condition.
At least 68 kilometre roads from Gorai to the Bangabandhu Bridge have potholes in Gorai, Dherua, Mirzapur, Pakullah, Jamurki, Korotia bypass, Ashokpur bypass, Rabna bypass, Rosulpur, Pouli and Elenga areas.
The traffic comes to snail's pace because of the potholes and under construction work of four-lane, creating gridlock for hours on the highway.
Tangail Bus-Minibus Workers' Association President Khandaker Ahsanul Haque Titu alleged that the sub-standard repair works would be washed away in a slight rainfall and damaged under heavy pressure of transports.
He also said Tangail police did not have enough wreckers to cope with situation along the 78 km highway from Dhaka to Bangabandhu Bridge, 70 km zonal highway from Tangail to Mymensingh and 40 km zonal highway from Tangail to Aricha zonal highway.
Juvraj Miah, a driver of Nirala Parbahan plying on Dhaka-Tangail highway said, it takes about six to eight hours to go Dhaka from Tangail while some places on the highway were made single lane, especially in Gorai, Pakulla and Baoikhola areas.
Transport workers also alleged that illegal kitchen market, cattle market, hawkers and other makeshift shops, which cause regular accidents, also occupied the highway.
Tangail Superintendent of Police Sanjib Kumar Roy said construction work of the four-lane project would be stopped seven days before Eid.
Ongoing construction of Bus Rapid Transit on Gazipur-Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport created huge congestion at Chandina intersection and Bhogra bypass areas, which turned even worse due to construction materials on roads, illegal shops and parking on highway and rainfall.
Last month, people suffered from severe tailback of about 32-km from Chowddhogram-Cumilla Cantonment-Daudkandi on Dhaka-Chattogram highway due to huge number of potholes and the four-lane construction work.
Transport workers and passengers alleged that slow inspection at toll plazas and weighbridges at Cumilla's Meghna and Gomati bridges are causing the traffic congestion as huge number of both goods-laden and passenger vehicles regularly gather at these weighbridges.
In Feni, repairing work on 27 km road between Mohammad Ali and Dhumghat Bridge points on Dhaka-Chattogram highway, and on six-kilometre on the old Dhaka-Chattogram highway's Star Line pump to Trunk road has created traffic congestion.
About one kilometre stretch of road, near under-construction Fatehpur railway overpass, on Dhaka-Chattogram highway is in a dilapidated condition causing traffic congestion too.
In Jashore, potholes developed in front of Manihar Cinema, Bakchar, Murali, Rajarhat, Ramnagar, Rupdia, Janamghata, Basundia, Prembagh, Chengutia, Bhangagate, Nawapara, Rajghat and many other places on the Jashore-Khulna highway.
Bumps on highway make journey dangerous on Jashore-Benapole highway too.
Temporary repairs were seen on Jashore -Magura and Jashore- Narail roads that are in a dilapidated condition.
BJKS Secretary General Mozammel Haque said, "Around 40 percent of the national and regional highways have become dilapidated due to lack of regular maintenance."
Speaking at a meeting at the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) headquarters in Dhaka, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader blasted dishonest engineers for the rundown condition of the country's roads and highways. He also directed to cancel contractors who are doing poor work.
According to the report by Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samiti (BJKS), at least 1.15 crore people will leave Dhaka during the Eid holidays of whom 60 lakh will use the highways.
Besides, 3.85 crore holidaymakers will make their journey from one district to another. Of them, 2.8 crore will use the highways.
The BJKS suggested that there should be some sort of a "rationing system" for the holidays, government transports should be used to carry family members of officials, illegal structures should be removed from highways, illegal tolls on highways should be stopped, selling of tickets on the black-market should be stopped and unfit vehicles should not be allowed to ply on highways to make the journey smooth for holidaymakers.
Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader claimed that homebound people would face no trouble on the highways during the Eid holidays.
Quader is confident it will not be the same this time. He made the claim in a post on his Facebook profile on May 28.
Regarding the tailbacks on Dhaka-Chattogram four-lane highway, Quader said the construction work of the railway overpass in Feni's Fatehpur area would be completed within June 15 and there would be no more traffic congestion in the area.
The second bridges at Kachpur and on Meghna and Gomati rivers would be completed by December, six months ahead of the scheduled time, he added.
These three bridges would ease traffic congestion in the country's busiest Dhaka-Chattogram highway, he hoped.

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