Highways, roads in worst state

Eid journey will be perilous

20 July 2014 Kazi Zahidul Hasan

Tens of thousands of Eid passengers may face untold sufferings en route to their village homes and towns during the ensuing Eid holidays owing to dilapidated condition of some key roads and highways such as the Dhaka-Chittagong, the Dhaka-Tangail, the Dhaka-Mymensingh, the Dhaka-Khulna, the Dhaka-Sylhet and the Dhaka-Mawa, transport operators said on Friday.   
They said, potholes and caves have developed at various points of 62,000 kilometres long roads and highways across the country, making them almost unfit to traffic.
 "We are worried at the sorry state of the country's major roads and highways. We cannot say whether the repair work will be completed in a week time. If not, the Eid passengers will undergo immense troubles in their journey from and to Dhaka," Khandoker Enayet Ullah, Secretary General of Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Samity (BSPS) told The New Nation yesterday.
BSPS, an association of the inter-district transport owners,  control 90 per cent of the country's traffic.   
 "Of the key highways, the condition of the Dhaka-Chittagong, the Dhaka-Tangail and the Dhaka-Mymensingh highways is at the worst state," said Khandoker Enayet Ullah adding, "The ongoing monsoon rain, absence of repair and maintenance at proper time, weak traffic management and encroachment by unsavoury elements are mainly responsible for the appalling state of the these roads."
He also said, the snail pace of the work on the four lanes of Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Mymensingh Highways has also exposed the incompetence of the department.
 "The government has taken the initiative to repair these roads on urgent basis to make the journey comfortable for the homebound passengers but we are yet to see any noticeable changes in this regard," he observed.
When asked, he said, things can't be changed overnight, and therefore, the passengers have to bear the brunt of the pains.  
 "Vehicles are already getting stranded on the roads and highways for hours due to the sorry state of the roads. The situation may aggravate with the increase of traffic and buses from three days prior to Eid," he said.
According to him, they have a plan to add 5000 more buses to the fleet in order to transport the additional Eid passengers.      
The BSPS leader also said, authorities have arranged repairing of the roads on makeshift basis with bricks and sands. This category of repairing is not sustainable because torrential rains will wash away everything.
 "We (transport owners) are gripped by a sense of awfulness due to prevailing bad state of major roads across the country," said Ramesh Chandra, Senior Vice-President of Bangladesh Bus and Truck Owners Association.
He said: The residents of Dhaka who are willing to observe the Eid with their kith and kin at village homes would face a hazardous journey, as we to see no remarkable progress of reconstruction work.
The bad shape of the roads would force the drivers to run vehicles in a snail pace making the journey lengthy for the Eid passengers. This would ultimately intensify sufferings of patients, women and children, he added.
Ramesh Chandra, Managing Director of Shyamoli Paribahan, further said, the passengers travelling by the Dhaka-Chittagong and the Dhaka-Mymensingh would be the worst victims of the terrible roads.
Terming the ongoing repair work as an 'eyewash' he said, we fear schedule devastation, for no bus will be able to reach its destination in time, nor will return in time. It will create anomalies at the terminal, on roads and elsewhere, and we will be watching public sufferings helplessly. As such, the initiative of making damaged roads ready for traffic should have been taken three months ago, he added.
To ease the distress of the passengers, we suggest ban on plying of heavy loaded trucks, covered vans and lorries on these roads for three days at least before and after Eid.  

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