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More holidays bring less hassle for Eid holidaymakers on the road

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Rokon Rakib arrived a bit early at the Mohakhali terminal to catch the 10pm bus, headed for Naogaon. His bus was half an hour from departure, and some passengers around him were still waiting for the 6:30pm bus. He too was mentally preparing for a long wait. However, unlike the other passengers, he did not face any difficulties; his bus left on time on Saturday.

Rakib, who works for a private news outlet, managed to leave for the north in relief, but this was not the case for everyone. At night, the terminal was still crowded with many waiting for their rides.

The usual troubles of not getting tickets, having to pay extra fares, and buses not leaving at the scheduled time were somewhat less severe this time compared with previous years. Some people even risked travelling in cargo trucks and pickups due to not getting tickets or because of high fares.

Passengers say they did not face traffic jams while travelling to districts in the north, south, Chattogram, Comilla, or Sylhet. They were able to travel towards their village homes with less hassle after leaving Dhaka.

The second biggest religious festival for Muslims will be celebrated in Bangladesh on Monday. The three-day Eid holiday stretches from Sunday to Tuesday. Since the two days prior are also weekend holidays, people have had three days to travel home, impacting the roads significantly.

From Thursday people rushed to their village homes to celebrate Eid with loved ones. Some traffic congestion was reported on Thursday night and Friday morning, but it decreased as time passed.

Those who could not get tickets or had duties in the office faced difficulties in their Eid journey after leaving Dhaka on Saturday evening.

After sunset, passengers departing from transport counters in and around Sayedabad in Dhaka suffered. Especially from Sayedabad, through Jatrabari, Mayor Mohammad Hanif Flyover, to Postogola, there was long traffic congestion.

Even at midnight, severe traffic jams were observed in the areas of Sayedabad, Jatrabari, Shanir Akhra, Postogola, and Maniknagar.

Due to increased passenger load, the order at the Kamalapur Railway Station also collapsed at night. Passengers climbed onto the roofs of the trains that departed.

FARE HIKE COMPLAINTS

Passengers complained that many transport services charged extra fares.

Masud Alam, a passenger on Sakura Paribahan’s Dhaka-Barishal route, told bdnews24.com his bus, scheduled to leave the Sayedabad counter at 7:30pm on Saturday but departed two hours late from Jatrabari., with the fare for the air-conditioned bus inflated from Tk 700 to Tk 1,200.

“We arrived at Sayedabad Railgate by 7pm. Due to traffic, I walked to the counter, but the bus was moved to Jatrabari. After walking there, I still couldn’t find the bus and had to go to Shahid Faruk Sarani, where it finally left at 9:30pm.”

Mohammad Asaduzzaman, another passenger from Dhaka to Barishal, expressed frustration over the heavy traffic in the capital.

He told bdnews24.com the traffic control system in Jatrabari and Sayedabad areas had collapsed in the evening.

“I bought tickets online, so I paid a fixed fare. However, I suffered a lot due to traffic congestion. It took more than two hours to reach Postogola from Sayedabad.”

SOME RELIEF IN TRAIN TRAVEL

From Kamalapur in Dhaka, 69 trains depart daily to different destinations before Eid. After the start of the Eid journey last Wednesday, Bangladesh Railway has imposed strict controls at Kamalapur and Airport stations.

No one without a ticket is being allowed into the stations. Passengers are also not permitted on the roofs of the trains, although some passengers could be seen on the roofs of some northbound trains departing Kamalapur on Friday night.

On Saturday, it was noted at the Airport station that entry without a ticket is restricted. Trains such as the Egarosindhur Provati Express, Ekota Express, and Sylhet’s Parabat Express were departing, and these trains were not overly crowded. No passengers were observed on the roofs during this time.

Mohammad Mohsin, a passenger of the Kishorgonj Express , told bdnews24.com: “Compared with other times, the train journey feels better. At Kamalapur, passengers are being allowed entry after ticket checks and there are fewer standing passengers. The train left three minutes late, which isn’t much of a delay.”

Another passenger, Mahfuzur Rahman, said, “This time the management by the railway seems better. The train schedule is quite accurate, although issuing standing tickets has led to higher crowding on the trains.”

However, trains to North Bengal are struggling to maintain order at Joydebpur station. From there, numerous passengers have been climbing onto the roofs of various trains.

On the northern roads, traffic congestion has been lighter than usual, but passengers have reported overcharges. On Thursday, from Dhaka to Tangail’s Elenga, vehicles were stuck in traffic jams, which continued until Friday morning. However, after noon on Friday until Saturday, traffic was relatively lighter, though congestion was seen from Gazipur’s Chandra to Kaliakoir and from Tangail’s Elenga to the Bangabandhu Bridge by Saturday evening.

A microbus driver, Mohammad Shakil, reported that it took him 14 hours to reach Dinajpur from Dhaka, departing on Thursday afternoon and arriving on Friday morning.

He said, “It took 5 hours just to reach Chandra from Shyamoli in Dhaka. The vehicle had to stop frequently from Chandra to the Jamuna Bridge, and there was a lot of traffic up to Bogura.”

Many passengers have complained about being charged extra fares on buses during Eid. For example, Arman Azam said he had to pay double the usual fare on a bus from Chhattogram to Pirganj, Thakurgaon.

The bdnews24.com correspondent from Tangail reported that traffic pressure started increasing on Thursday evening, but it was not too congested.

From Thursday night to Friday night, 53,708 vehicles crossed the Bangabandhu Bridge, the highest number since its construction.

Amidst the traffic pressure, a cargo truck overturned in Tangail’s Pungli area late Thursday night, creating a traffic tailback stretching at least 15 kilometres. As Friday progressed, the traffic situation normalised.

No vehicles were allowed to travel towards Dhaka from the Bangabandhu Bridge from noon to 1:30pm on Saturday, allowing only northbound vehicles to pass during this time.

Despite the traffic, there was no significant congestion reported by the bdnews24.com correspondent from Tangail on Saturday.

With the opening of a four-lane road, significant traffic jams have not occurred on the west end of the Bangabandhu Bridge and Sirajganj’s Hatikumrul area since Thursday.

bdnews24.com’s Sirajganj correspondent, Israil Hossain Babu, said extensive police deployment and the implementation of a four-lane system have helped keep the traffic smooth and less congested as part of Eid preparations.

Mir Mohammad Sajidur Rahman, the OC of Elenga Highway Police Station, told bdnews24.com due to the continuous holidays before Eid, there has been less pressure on the roads.

“From Thursday evening to Friday, vehicle pressure was increasing. From Saturday, traffic has significantly reduced. I believe that many who are employed went home on Thursday and many more on Friday. The extended holidays allowed people to travel in phases, reducing traffic jams.”

On Saturday, a visit to Dhaka’s Mohakhali and Gabtoli terminals showed fewer passengers.

After the opening of the Padma Bridge, although the popularity of water transport seemed to have decreased, Sadarghat witnessed an overwhelming crowd on Friday. The same was true for Saturday evening. However, the crowd on launches on the Barisal route was somewhat lesser.

On Saturday morning, Abdullah Al Mamun travelled to Chandpur from Sadarghat on a launch. He said, “Compared with before, the crowd has decreased, but we couldn’t get a cabin initially. Later, we purchased business class tickets. The journey felt smooth to me, unlike other times when it’s very crowded.”

Md Ismail Hossain, joint director of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority’s Marine Safety and Traffic Management Department, told bdnews24.com over 100 launches would depart from Sadarghat terminal on Saturday. By the evening, more than half had already left.

He said, “Though the crowd decreased after the Padma Bridge became operational, the previous situation returned over the last three days. Each launch was full on Friday, and today is the same. We have taken special measures for the Eid journey.

“Law enforcement, including RAB and police, has been deployed. As the passenger load increases, no timetable is being followed. The launches are compelled to depart once they are full.”

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