People suffered immeasurably as complete chaos ruled the traffic in the capital on Friday amid Bangladesh Civil Service preliminary examination, admission tests of two universities, processions occupying the city roads by ruling Awami League and its front organisations to receive prime minister Sheikh Hasina and to mark the PM’s homecoming in the evening after a two-week tour of the United States and Canada.
Severe gridlock for hours in different parts and absence of vehicles in other parts were what left the commuters helpless on the roads, compelling many to stay stuck in tailbacks or walk their destinations.
Use of buses for transportation of the ruling party men to join the PM’s mass reception triggered severe scarcity of transports, especially in the afternoon, commuters in different city areas complained.
The AL accorded the reception to the PM on her receiving UN-women 'Planet 50-50 Champion' and Global Partnership Forum 'Agent of Change Award' during the visit.
The BCS examination was held from 9:30am to 11:30am, Dhaka University’s unit C admission test was held from 10:00am to 11:00am and Jagannath University’s unit C examination was held from 3:00pm to 4:00pm on the day.
‘Though Friday is a weekend holiday, I needed one and a half hour to reach Shahbagh from Kalyanpur after attending my BCS preliminary examination that ended at 11:30am,’ Md Jakaria Hossain, a BCS preliminary examinee from Tangail, told New Age.
‘Our bus needed over one hour to reach Farmgate from Matshya Bhaban due to severe gridlock in the areas surrounding the DU campus as there was an admission test there,’ said Abdul Ahad, a resident of Indira Road near Farmgate.
The admission test at Jagannath University in the afternoon also caused severe gridlock in the Old Dhaka, our JnU correspondent reported.
Thousands of leaders and activists of AL and its front organisations from Dhaka and its adjacent districts began to march along the road stretching Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to the PM’s official residence at Ganabhaban in the capital since midday.
They came by buses, trucks and motorcycles and the roads were virtually remained occupied by the activists moving in processions since 3:30pm, which resulted in severe traffic jam on the road.
Traffic also came to a standstill on several other roads since that time, causing severe inconvenience to the commuters.
Besides the road from the airport to Ganabhaban, severe tailbacks were witnessed on roads including Mirpur Road, Farmgate area, Bijay Sarani and Mahakhali area. The situation got even worse in the evening.
The flight of Emirates Airlines carrying the PM and her entourage landed at the airport at 6:43pm, about one and a half hours behind the schedule of 5:20pm, said Shahidul Islam Mukul, an information officer at the airport.
AL and its front organisations’ activists gathered on both sides and, at places, occupying the road.
‘I needed about three hours to reach Karwanbazar from Mirpur-1 Friday afternoon. I got on a New Vision Paribahan bus from Mirpur-1 and got down at Shyamoli after waiting about half an hour there. Later I started to walk and found all vehicles standing still on the road until I reached Karwanbazar at 6:00pm,’ Shahazadur Rahman, a resident of Mirpur Section 1, told New Age.
Ashok Mistri, a resident of Rajarbagh at Basabo in the city, told New Age that he had to wait almost half an hour to get a bus to go to Rampura in the afternoon as the buses were scarce then. ‘I managed to get on a bus of Turag Paribahan and the bus staff told me that many buses were engaged in the PM’s programme.’
Dhaka Metropolitan Police additional deputy commissioner (traffic north) Humaira Parvin told New Age that the gridlock on the Airport to Ganabhaban in the afternoon and its adjacent area was for the AL programme and the movement of the PM.
She said that they had been trying to clear the road until 8:00pm.
Asked how long they would keep traffic shut for movement of the PM, she expressed her ignorance about it.