Ashequl Morsalin, an IT professional, was unable to resist his temptation to share the thrilling experience he gathered while returning to Dhaka from Chattogram by bus after celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr on Friday night.“I’m really thrilled to share it with you (colleagues) that I reached Dhaka from Chattogram in just three hours,” an excited Morsalin told colleagues at his office on Saturday.
Morsalin, in his early 30s, went on saying, “I boarded a bus at 11pm in Chattogram for Dhaka. I reached the capital around 2am. The bus had a 20-minute stopover in Cumilla as well. So, it virtually took only 2:40 hours for me to reach Dhaka. This is unimaginable!”
He said his last journey to Chattogram barely two months back was awful. “My bus had to take nearly 7 hours to cross Meghna and the Gumti bridges.”
Morsalin said the travel time has drastically come down as the three new bridges on the highway were opened to traffic before the eid.
Besides, he said, the highway is completely free from traffic tailback as the trucks and covered vans are not allowed to ply roads due to the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrated on Wednesday.
Travelling by road from Dhaka to Chattogram or the vice-versa was really a nightmare barely a month ago.But infrastructural development, including the opening of three bridges on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway, has drastically changed the situation cutting the travel time significantly.
The sudden improvement in travelling on this main national highway was a pleasant surprise for the holidaymakers.
Talking to UNB, a number of eid holidaymakers expressed their utmost happiness as they have had smoother journeys on the highway this time after a long time.
However, transport experts suggested taking proper steps so that drivers cannot cross the speed limit and drive vehicles recklessly on the highway.
On March 16, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the four-lane second 397.3-metre Kanchpur Bridge across Shitalakkhya River.
The PM also opened the much-awaited 930-metre Second Meghna Bridge and the 1,410-metre Second Gumti Bridge on Dhaka-Chattogram highway on May 25.
However, three old bridges now remained closed to traffic for necessary repairing works. All the three old bridges have only two lanes.
Nazrul Islam Superintendent of Police (SP), Highway Police, Cumilla, said traffic often crawls to a halt at the approaches to the old bridges just a month ago, causing long tailbacks and waste of huge time of commuters. “But the situation is quite different now.”
He thinks the opening of the three new bridges and restriction on the movement of freight vehicles and strong monitoring by law enforcers are the main reasons why there is no traffic congestion now on the otherwise busy highway.
Iftekhar Ahmed, another private job holder, said it took only 2:30 hours for him to reach Rampura in the capital from Chauddagram in Cumilla by his car on Saturday morning.
Apart from opening of the new three bridges, he said, the construction of three overpasses -- one over a level-crossing in Cumilla, another on another level-crossing in Feni and third one in Feni’s Mohipal—are also the key reasons behind hassle-free journeys on the highway. “People are now getting the real benefit of the four-lane Dhaka-Chattogram Highway as the new bridges also have four lanes unlike the old ones.”
Besides, Iftekhar said, there are now Dhaka has three entry-exit points for the commuters of the south-eastern region --one through 300-feet road, the second one through Banasree-Meradia road and the third and the old one through Sayedabad and Jatrabar road. “This is helping commuters to enjoy reduced travel time. Jatrabari Flyover is also contributing to the smooth entry into and exit from the capital.”
Rashed Shahriar Polash, another commuter, said he reached Mouchak in the capital from Chandpur district town in only two hours on Friday evening in his car. “It had taken around nine hours to go to Chandpur town from the capital barely one and a half months back. The return time was also the same.”
He said it was difficult to cross the three two-lane old bridges with a five-km speed per hour one month ago. “Now we can cross the new bridges with a 100-km speed. So, the new bridges on the highway are blessings for the commuters.”
Shamim, a microbus driver, said he went to Feni on Friday evening in just 2:45 hours as there was no traffic trouble on the highway. “I came back to the capital today (Saturday) in just 2:15 hours.”
Contacted, Dr Sarwar Jahan, a former professor of Buet's Urban and Regional Planning department and also a transport expert, said this is good news that the travel time has reduced significantly on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway following the construction of the three new bridges. “But law enforcers should strongly monitor so that the drivers can’t cross the speed limit.”
He said the highway police should take strong positions at the risky points of the highway to control reckless driving.
Prof Shamsul Haque of Buet, who is also a transport expert, said people are now enjoying the benefit of the new bridges undoubtedly. “But our highways and most vehicles are not fit for driving uninterruptedly with high speed. So, the highway police should intensively monitor vehicles to prevent risky and reckless driving.”