A sense of trepidation has gripped commuters planning to travel home this Eid.
The pitiful plight of the roads and highways is alarming. Of six major highways, four are intermittently filled with ruts and potholes.
The roads in many districts are destroyed by the floods. Temporary repairs are simply being washed away by the rains. And these six highways are linked with all 64 districts of the country.
Given the circumstances, there is going to be significant suffering on the roads with sacrificial animals being transported to Dhaka and passengers travelling home.
According to the secretary for road transport and highways, if the rains continue, commute may be difficult this Eid.
An official of the roads and highways department, on condition of anonymity, said, it is not a matter of how many kilometres of the roads and highways are in disrepair. Just a one kilometre stretch of bad road can bring a highway to a standstill.
In 2015 the entire Dhaka-Chittagong highway was fine, expect for a stretch near Sitakunda. That made travel on the entire highway difficult. And Eid travel is prone to accidents. And vehicles carrying the sacrificial animals often break down, making matters worse.
Secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Association Khandakar Enayet Ullah told the condition of the roads is extremely poor due to excessive rains.
He said it takes a full day for a bus to reach Dhaka from Rangpur. It takes three and a half hours for a bus to come just from Gazipur to Mohakhali. It takes 10 to 12 hour to go to Sylhet. This Eid is going to be difficult.
Inspecting the bad condition of the roads in Sirajganj on 9 August, road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader issued a 10-day ultimatum to have the roads fixed. After that, roads were being repaired with brick chips and tar, but none of this lasts. Similar repairs made during Eid-ul-Fitr also went in vain.
According to Prothom Alo, the condition of about 537 kilometres of road in 14 districts is not good. The holes in the road are so big that in places the vehicles tip over.
Big vehicles carrying goods fall out of order, blocking the roads. These districts include Gazipur, Tangail, Sirajganj, Bogra, Gaibandha, Jessore, Magura, Narail, Jhenidah, Khulna, Barisal, Narsingdi, Sylhet and Netrakona.
Transport expert and professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Shamsul Huq told Prothom Alo, the problems have increased this time due to the floods and excessive rains.
“Nature cannot be denied. It would be better if people started going home earlier. There is nothing really to do now except depend on the management of the roads and the traffic police.”
Professor Shamsul Huq said, “There was a flurry of repairs before and after Eid-ul-Fitr, and this shouldn’t have been damaged so soon. There must have been something wrong somewhere. There need to be answers. There really is no reason for so much suffering. It rains in other countries too. We can learn how they manage. Unless these matters are addressed, the country will face massive losses.”
When asked why the roads are in such a state of disrepair so soon, road transport and highways secretary MAN Siddique told Prothom Alo that water is the enemy of Bitumen. If there are rains, no one can guarantee the roads will remain in good shape.