Despite crackdown, bus drivers flout rules by stopping illegally on Dhaka-Ctg highway

Bus drivers claim they are forced to unload passengers in the middle of the highway due to illegal parking on service lanes

Published : 20 March 2024, 10:18 AM
Updated : 20 March 2024, 10:18 AM

Despite a highway police crackdown, bus drivers flout traffic rules and continue to drop off passengers in the middle of the road on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway.

As a result, plenty of passengers are endangering their lives by jumping over the highway divider in an attempt to cross the roads.

According to the highway police, random bus halts cannot be prevented if bus drivers are not aware of the risks they pose to the lives of the passengers.

However, bus drivers claim that they have to unload passengers in the middle of the highway as illegal parking of vehicles brings traffic to a standstill on the service lanes.

Recently, a video of an individual collecting money from passersby by helping them cross the highway dividers with the help of a ladder in Siddhirganj's Shimrail area went viral on social media. The police arrested Rabiul Hossain following the incident and also confiscated the two ladders that he used for the unconventional business scheme.

Since then, the highway police have been cracking down on the illegal stopping of buses on the highway.

According to Sharfuddin, an official of the Shimrail Highway Police Camp, cases have been filed against the owners of 78 buses for unloading passengers in the middle of the highway from Sunday through Tuesday.

The crackdown was also underway early on Wednesday morning.

"Four of the eight lanes on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway are used by fast-moving vehicles,” he said. “Two additional lanes on each side of the highway are used to pick up and drop off passengers. But the bus drivers do not use the service lanes."

"The passengers cannot use the pedestrian over-bridge either due to structural reasons," he added.

According to Sharfuddin, the highway traffic rules state that bus drivers must enter the service lane to unload passengers at the Shimrail bus stop as they descend from the Kanchpur Bridge.

However, most of these drivers flout the traffic rules by stopping abruptly in the middle of the road, putting the lives of passengers in danger.

On Tuesday afternoon, at least 17 long-distance bus passengers were seen disembarking from the buses on the highway.

The police have also filed cases against a few of those bus drivers.

Taslima, a bus passenger, was also dropped off in the middle of the highway after arriving at her destination.

She told, "Men can climb the dividers and jump to the other side. But how am I supposed to cross the road with my children?"

Robin Ahmed, another passenger, claimed that the bus drivers stop the vehicles intentionally in the middle of the highway.

"They are doing this in front of the highway police. All the passengers are endangering their lives by jumping over the highway dividers," said Robin.

As many as seven women were also seen standing in the middle of the highway as they were unable to cross the divider. They later got on top of a van to cross the road.

However, bus driver Abir Hossain has claimed that he would unload his passengers at the bus stop if the service lanes were free of traffic.

According to the Roads and Highways Department and the Highway Police, the road dividers between the express (VIP) and service lanes of the Dhaka-Chittagong highway had previously been lower. There was also a pocket gate at Shimrail Junction.

However, the road divider was raised a year ago to stop passengers from being dropped off in the middle of the highway. The pocket gate was also closed three months ago.

The nearest pocket gate is about one kilometre from the location now.

SI Noor Mia of Shimrail Highway Police Camp told, "There are two lanes here: one VIP lane and another service lane. The buses are supposed to drop the passengers off in the service lane, but the bus drivers drop them off in the VIP lane for their convenience. Passengers are at risk here."

While speaking of the illegal parking in the service lane, he said, "There is no opportunity for illegal parking in the service lane as the highway police are at work there. It takes some time for passengers to board the bus. But the long-distance drivers are not willing to spend that time."

"We are working to maintain order on the highway. I regularly file cases against the buses whenever I see such an incident," he added.

An official of the Shimrail Police Camp told, "We have two policemen who regularly patrol the Shimrail intersection. Still, a mobile team has been working regularly for the last few days to file cases against the bus drivers who are flouting the rules."

"But if bus drivers, their supervisors, and other concerned parties are not made aware of the risk it poses to passengers, then it will be difficult to stop the practice just by filing a case."