Northbound traffic halted as Ijtema pilgrims return home from Tongi

Parts of Dhaka are experiencing heavy traffic as a result

Published : 4 Feb 2024, 06:47 AM
Updated : 4 Feb 2024, 06:47 AM

Roads in Tongi are brimming with pilgrims as they make their way back home at the end of the first phase of Bishwa Ijtema, one of the world's largest Muslim gatherings.

To ensure their safety, authorities have suspended traffic on the northbound roads from the capital.

The first phase of the Bishwa Ijtema ended on Sunday after hundreds of thousands devotees from across the country took part in the 'Akheri Munajat' or final prayer on the banks of the Turag River.

Devotees started arriving in Tongi on Saturday afternoon using various modes of transport, including buses, trucks, cars, microbuses, trains, and launches, to participate in the prayer service.

To ease their arrival and departure, Gazipur Metropolitan Police's traffic department restricted general traffic, excluding vehicles carrying pilgrims, on three Gazipur roads starting from 10 pm on Saturday.

Devotees continued to arrive at the Ijtema ground throughout the night, with many walking long distances to get there.

At the end of the final prayer at 9:30 am, attendees embarked on their return journey on foot due to the road closure.

"Devotees are returning to Dhaka in large numbers on foot. To manage this influx, we have restricted vehicular traffic on these roads, though we are gradually allowing small vehicles to pass. Larger vehicles may have to wait a while," said Hafizur Rahman, additional deputy commissioner of the Traffic Police Gulshan Division.

Numerous commuters have taken to Facebook's Traffic Alert group to share their experiences of being caught in prolonged traffic jams across Dhaka city.

The congestion in the Gulshan-Banani area has extended to Hatirjheel too. Moshiur Rahman, a medical representative, said that, even on a motorcycle, he was stranded in a heavy snarl-up in Hatirjheel.

Buses bound for Mymensingh and Gazipur were unable to depart due to the Ijtema, leading to increased congestion as they were parked along the roadside in Mohakhali.

Sheikh Nuruddin, co-owner of Soukhin Paribahan bus company, said the Ijtema in Tongi prevented their vehicles from leaving. He added that many of their buses are in Tongi, hired specifically for transporting Ijtema attendees.