As of Thursday evening, there were no reports of gridlock on the Dhaka-Chattogram and the Dhaka-Tangail highways
Most Dhaka residents who have started leaving the city for their home-towns to observe Eid-ul-Adha, may face traffic congestion caused by rain.
Jisan Mehedi, senior assistant superintendent (ASP) of the Highway Police, Narayanganj circle, said that heavy rainfall may affect the pace of vehicles, leading to traffic gridlock.
“We are trying our best to facilitate a safe and comfortable journey for homebound travellers, despite the fact that there is the possibility of heavy rain before Eid,” he added.
As of Thursday evening, there were no reports of gridlock on the country’s two busiest highways— the Dhaka-Chattogram and the Dhaka-Tangail highways.
Selim Uddin, a driver of the Dhaka to Lakshmipur bound Econo Bus, echoed the same concerns. He claimed that the average speed of vehicles had decreased and that it had taken him an additional two hours to reach his destination.
Sources at the Highway Police said that they are patrolling the highways around the clock and seizing and fining owners or drivers of slower vehicles.
“We are very strict with human haulers, auto-rickshaws and other slow vehicles because they reduce the overall pace of traffic. Faster vehicles try to overtake them, increasing the risk of accidents,” said Habibur Rahman, deputy inspector general of Highway Police.
Police sources said that this week, an average of over 23,000 vehicles crossed the Meghna-Gumti bridge on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway every day,.
The number of vehicles crossing the bridge may increase to over 35,000 on Friday, said Jisan Mehedi. He added that readymade garment workers leaving that day might contribute to this higher number.
“Our patrol teams are stationed every five kilometres. If anything goes wrong, we will respond immediately and rush to the spot,” the ASP added. “Also, 15 tow-trucks have been positioned at key points on the major highways to respond to any accidents.”
The ASP of Tangail’s Madhupur circle, Kamran Hossain, claimed that there were no traffic jams on the Dhaka-Tangail highway.
“If anything goes wrong on the Bangabandhu bridge, then there might be a chance of traffic gridlock. Other than that, the journeys this Eid will be comfortable for passengers,” he added.
Kamran also said that in the last 24 hours, 25,877 vehicles crossed the Bangabandhu bridge, and that the figure might reach 35,000 before Eid Day.
He further said, “Usually, only 15,000 vehicles cross the bridge every 24 hours. But our preparation is better than in previous years. So we hope to facilitate a hassle-free journey for holiday-makers.”
A superintendent of police, five additional superintendents, four ASPs, 37 inspectors, 102 sub-inspectors, 84 assistant sub-inspectors, 29 nayeks, 386 constables — a total 650 policemen—are at work on the Dhaka-Tangail highway.
A 24-hour monitoring cell has also been set up by the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry.
Furthermore, the Highway Police has cancelled leave for all its members until August 12— Eid day.
Authorities are also monitoring highway traffic congestion with the help of closed-circuit TV cameras. The Highway Police and local police stations have stepped-up surveillance of all major highways of the country to check for problems.