Dhaka city dwellers on Saturday experienced severe traffic congestion throughout the day on Saturday because of VIP movement and participants in a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan organised to celebrate UNESCO recognition of the historic March 7 speech.
Nagarik Committee organised the rally addressed by prime minister Sheikh Hasina attended as chief guest.
All roads leading towards the rally venue and Dhaka University areas were closed for about five hours since 1:00pm.
Commuters, including students, patients and their attendants, suffered immensely due to acute shortage of public transports, especially buses and minibuses, and higher transport fares.
A huge number of participants, mainly under the banner of ruling Awami League and front organisations, came to the venue on foot and in vehicles including city service buses and covered vans.
They held rallies blocking roads while many buses and minibuses including Dhaka Chaka were parked on roads.
One side of Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue was restricted so that the participants could move freely from Shahbagh square to Bijoy Sarani since 12:30pm while Maulana Bhashani and Topkhana Roads were fully closed to all vehicles since 1:30pm.
The traffic between Hatirjheel and Panthapath, Farmgate and Karwan Bazar was restricted at Karwan Bazar intersection for about two hours.
Vehicles remained stuck in gridlocks at Shahbagh, Mintu Road, Old Elephant Road, Eskatan Garden Road, New Eskatan Road, Bangla Motors, Hatirpool, Karwan Bazar, Hatirjheel Link Road, Sonargaon Road, Panthapath-Tejgaon Link Road, Farmgate, Indira Road, Bijoy Sarani-Tejgaon Link Road and Bir Uttam Ziaur Rahman Road.
Most of the by-lanes including Holy Cross College, Tejturi Bazar and Kataban roads were closed to traffic on the main roads.
Eventually, the congestion spread to all major areas including Nilkhet, Azimpur, Dhanmondi, Green Road, Hare Road, Moghbazar, Mouchak, Santinagar, Kakrail, Seghunbagicha and even Old Town areas.
A huge number of commuters were seen to walk till evening.
Rekha Akhter, a patient from Chittagong who came to meet physicians at BSMMU, said that after reaching Paltan, she found all roads blocked.
She reached Matsya Bhaban intersection at 2:00pm from Paltan on foot when the time to meet the physicians was already past.
Halima Begum said a BRTC bus dropped her at Shahbagh instead of Gulistan as police did not allow it any farther.
‘I am walking this long distance despite my illness,’ said Halima while crossing Ramna Park around 1:40pm when police did not allow anyone on the road for security reason.
Fazlul Haque said after seeing his sick brother at BIRDEM, he was waiting with members of his family for a transport for two hours and a half since 1:30pm but failed.
Azizul Islam said it took two hours and a half to reach Hatirpool from Azimpur in his personal vehicle which usually took 20 minutes.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police joint commissioner (traffic-North) Mohammad Abdur Razzaq told New Age that traffic was restricted for a certain period due to VIP movement.
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