Eid travel: There should be no compromise in preparations
During the pandemic, people had to celebrate Eid wherever they were in suffocating circumstances. Many of them have lost relatives and loved ones to Covid. Now that the corona situation is under control, this year's Eid holidays will naturally create a terrible rush. Staying stuck on the road for 10 to 12 hours in traffic jam during Eid is not new.
How the government will handle the extra pressure on roads and waterways this time is a matter of concern. Last year's Eid-ul-Fitr also saw extra pressure from homebound people amid relaxed restrictions. Five people have died due to overcrowding on the Shimulia-Banglabazar ferry. Preventing deaths on the road during Eid travel is also a big challenge.
According to the report of Prothom Alo, due to the construction work on the road, there is a fear of traffic jam on Dhaka-Rangpur and Dhaka-Mymensingh highways among the four main highways of the country. Renovation work is also underway on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway in the Daudkandi section of Cumilla. Apart from that, the traffic from Tongi to Chandna crossroads has become a jinx for the BRT project. Road experts are also worried about the extra time and cost of the project.
This 12-kilometer route takes three to four hours, or even longer, to cross in normal time. Now this route, one of the entrances to Dhaka, will undoubtedly increase the suffering of people during Eid. However, assurance is being given to make the road fully operational before Eid. On the other hand, it is feared that the traffic jam caused by illegal parking of vehicles and extortion on many roads in the district including Dhaka-Sylhet highway will cause terrible sufferings.
Due to the closure of one route crossing the Padma, the pressure on another route increases and it sometimes takes 6 to 9 hours to reach the ferry. Hundreds of thousands of people from 21 districts in the south and south-west of the country are constantly suffering on the Paturia-Daulatdia route while traveling from the capital. It is not hard to understand how difficult it will be to handle the extra pressure during the Eid vacation. Although bus and truck crossings on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route are closed, a few ferries are still operating on the route. Authorities said there would be no crossing of bus and trucks through the ghat on Eid.
But in order to control the situation, it would be advisable to use the terminal as well. There is no alternative to increase the number of ferries on both the routes. The number of wharves for ferry should also be increased. The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the ferries. They say they are ready to build alternative ghats if the authorities want. As a result, we think BIWTA can still be helpful. Because, some officials of the agency warned there would be an overwhelming pressure this Eid and there was little preparation compared to that.
It will be very frustrating if the joy of Eid of the people is reduced to dust due to traffic jam. During the Eid, many lives are lost in road accidents every year. The roads are also blocked due to the accident resulting in long tailback. This time there is also the fear of nor’wester, which may hinder ferry crossing. Deaths due to overcrowding are not new. As a result, law enforcement and surveillance agencies on roads and waterways have to be strict. Lack of coordination among them can also increase sufferings. We have to make sure that buses and launches without fitness do not run in any way. The Eid travel will start in a couple of weeks. There are instructions to complete the ongoing renovation and development work on many of these roads before the start of Eid. We hope that the government will take all the initiative to finish the work fast and make the people's Eid journey comfortable.