The authorities in Gazipur have been actively considering diverting the vehicle movement on Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Tangail highways and the connecting roads during the Biswa Ijtema period as the movement of vehicles came to a standstill due to hundreds of thousands of congregation attendees taking positions on the roadside footpaths.
Commuters experienced severe gridlock on both the highways as well as the Dhaka-Gazipur highway as vehicles moved at a snail’s pace since Thursday dawn, a day before the first phase of the second largest annual congregation of Muslim devotees officially kicks off.
Gazipur Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) Alamgir Hossain said the area has been experiencing extreme traffic pressure, which is causing the gridlock.
Alamgir’s superior, Commissioner Molla Nazrul Islam said special traffic measures have been taken from Saturday evening until after the Akheri Munajat, as the number of attendees is likely to increase substantially during these hours.
In order to manage traffic, he said, the Gazipur traffic department has divided the whole area into several sections. "From Abdullahpur to Dhirasram is one sector, another from Munnu gate to Kamarpara bridge, the third one from Kamarpara bridge to Bhogra intersection, fourth one from Bhogra intersection to three hundred feet road until Konabari intersection.”
He also said the Dhaka-bound traffic will be diverted to the 300 Feet Road to enter the capital, while outbound traffic movements from Dhaka will be diverted via Ashulia to Konabari to enter the Joydebpur intersection.
“The diversion is likely to be activated prior to the Juma prayers, as we are expecting massive gatherings of devotees during the time,” he said.
The first phase of the Biswa Ijtema will begin on the bank of the Turag River at Tongi on Friday.
The first phase will begin with Aam Bayan, or general sermons, by noted scholars after Fazr prayers on the day that will end with the Akheri Munajat on Jan 15, confirmed one of the organisers Md Mahfuz.
This year, the Ijtema is taking place after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, and organisers involved in the congregation said they are expecting more people than usual this year due to the fact.
The actual congregation ground has already been filled up and exasperated devotees looking for a place to stay were even seen setting themselves up on both sides of highways and connecting roads.
One of the attendees, Aminul Islam from Tangail, said he arrived at the ground at least two days ago on Wednesday, fearing he might not be able to slot in if he made it later.
“It’s been two years since the last Ijtema. Of course, the enthusiasm is higher this year. That’s why I came here two days ago to get a space, but by the time I arrived the ground had almost filled up,” he said.
The second phase of the Ijtema will begin on Jan 20 at the same venue and it is scheduled to end with the Akheri Munajat on Jan 22.