Eid holidaymakers are suffering immensely due to gridlock in ferry terminals and highways, which is turning their long-awaited journey home to an even more grueling experience than usual.
Buses are not arriving on schedule at the terminals due to long tailbacks in every highway connected to Dhaka, causing passengers to wait at the counters for hours. Even after boarding busses, homegoers are getting stuck on highways almost immediately after hitting the road.
On Sunday noon, around 500 trucks were found waiting for five to ten hours to cross the Padma River, due to heavy traffic at Banglabazar-Shimulia route. As the trucks waited to get into Dhaka on one bank, countless homegoers got stuck on the other side due to the jam.
Some drivers, in an attempt to complete their daily trip quota, are trying to rush when the highways clear even a little. Such reckless driving is causing accidents, but most of them are going unreported for not being that severe, passenger transport companies have said.
On a spot visit to the Sayedabad Bus Counter on Sunday, The Business Standard witnesses an altercation between some passengers and the Shyamoli Paribahan Counter Master Mohammad Rakib.
Responding to a query, homegoer Rubi Akter said, "Our bus was supposed to leave the counter at 9am. It is almost 12pm now, but our bus is nowhere to be seen. The counter master is calling someone frequently, and telling us the bus will soon arrive here."
Meanwhile, Counter Master Mohammad Rakib said, "Our buses are being late because of heavy gridlock in different areas of the highway. Our schedules are now in disarray. There is nothing we can do about it."
Reiterating the same, Dola Paribahan Counter Master said, "The passengers are getting restless over all this waiting. Some are too agitated and they are trying to beat us up. We are attempting to keep them calm. It is the only thing we can do now."
Unique Paribahan Counter Master Md Nurunnabi said, "The traffic pressure has suddenly increased across the country, and this has caused immense gridlock on the highways. The overall situation is forcing us to run the vehicles without any rest.
"Despite the government guidelines, we are not getting any opportunity to spray the vehicles with disinfectant and clean them properly."
Sacrificial animals suffering too
Hundreds of trucks carrying sacrificial animals from North Bengal to Dhaka got stuck on highways and ferry terminals due to the severe traffic jam on Sunday.
A number of traders told The Business Standard that the delayed arrival of animals is causing a shortage of cattle in the markets, which in turn could push their prices up in the coming days.
The long agonising on the trucks in intense heat is making many animals sick. Traders have reported the death of at least 25 animals during transportation so far.
'3 times more traffic than usual'
Authorities reported traffic congestion in the 20-kilometre area of Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu Bridge Highway since early Sunday. A long gridlock had formed from Rabna Bypass on the Tangail section of the highway to the east side of Bangabandhu Bridge.
Giving more details, Elenga Highway Police Outpost in-charge Yasser Arafat said, "There had been traffic congestion on the highway since dawn. The number of cars on the highway has increased three times than usual.
"Even on Saturday, traffic was slow on the highway from Rabna Bypass in Tangail to Bangabandhu Bridge. The police are working to clear the traffic jam."
Sources however said the traffic jam on this highway had eased during Sunday noon.
Six die on road crash
Six people died and at least 15 got seriously injured in a head-on collision between two passenger buses on Dhaka-Rangpur Highway in the Mithapukur upazila early Sunday.
The accident took place at Baldipukur area when the Rangpur-bound "Selfie Paribahan" and the Dhaka-bound "Joana Paribahan" collided at Mostafa Cold Storage point at around 7:30 am, said Mithapukur police station Officer-in-Charge of Md Amiruzzaman.
Identities of the deceased could not be known till the filing of this report. The injured are undergoing treatment at the Rangpur Medical College Hospital, he added.