CHATTOGRAM: Traffic congestion, which increased fast in the last several years in port city and its adjoining areas, has been disrupting normal life in the city severely, ordinary city-dwellers, traders and urban planners said.
They said that traffic jam in roads and highways in the port city and to and from it has become so severe now that people get afraid of travelling from one areas of the city to another even on emergency needs.
They attributed various reasons to the sharp increase in gridlock in the city, adjoining upazilas and the Chittagong Port area.
When talking with this correspondent recently they attributed the traffic congestion to implementation of different mega projects, including elevated expressway, excavation of roads for laying gigantic pipes for flushing out stagnant water through city's drains, unplanned urbanisation or wrong town planning, dumping of construction materials on roads, springing up of unauthorised markets and shops, illegal parking of vehicles on both side of roads and illegal occupation the city's streets and footpaths.
Talking to the FE a service-holder who lives in the city and travels 15 kilometres six days a week to go to his workplace, said traffic congestion often gets so frightening that sight of gridlock when it gets very severe on some important roads seems to be dreadful for him.
He said he has to waste four to six hours every day in the streets due to the gridlock.
"For us life in the city has become miserable now," he said.
An on-duty traffic constable in a city road said congestions halt running vehicles for a long time on roads, and often the vehicles get stuck on a single road for multiple hours every working day. That's why passengers of buses, auto-rickshaws, cars and all other modes of transports get stranded in the streets several hours daily, he said.
Engineer Shubash Barua, a town planner said that unplanned construction of structures in the city, dumping of building materials in its streets, creation of illegal parking lots by occupying a portion of roads, setting up of illegal markets and shops on roads, open spaces and sidewalks, establishing makeshift shops on footpaths are the main causes of the congestion. Besides, setting up of unauthorised stands for easy bike, tempo and battery-run rickshaw are also contributing to increasing the jam, he stated.
Despite repeated pleas made to the authorities from different quarters to take measures to lessen the congestion, the traffic department has come up with no effective steps to cope with the situation, let alone easing the congestion, he said. A businessman who runs a business in Khatunganj said he is facing a phenomenon like situation due to the congestion every day.
The traffic department has no good plan to cope with the situation, he added.
Sources said, large portions of every road and footpath, particularly the main roads have been occupied by the illegal land grabbers backed by some influential people under the very nose of local administration officials, including police. The land grabbers have turned most of the city roads and footpaths into hawkers' markets. On the other hand, a large portion of roads, open spaces and streets have been changed into parking zones by them. Due to the illegal occupation, total areas of roads and streets have got squeezed where a large vehicle cannot pass through. The grabbers have set up parking lots occupying vast lands, for example four-feet in width on every road which turned the roads narrower.
On the other hand construction of elevated expressway from Patenga to the heart of the city through many important areas is also one of the prime causes of congestion. The elevated expressway is being constructed on the main road from Patenga to Bahadderhat through Chittagong Port. So, traffic congestion from Patenga to the port is a regular phenomenon, importers and owners of transport companies said. Due to construction of the project, carrying of goods from Chittagong Port to nearby upazilas and other districts gets hampered every day. So, the exporters, importers and distributors are wasting both time and money in reaching the consignments to their respective destinations.