Commuters of Barishal and five other adjacent districts face untold suffering because of huge traffic tangles on the 1km narrow stretch of road from Rupatoli Bus Stand to Sagardi Bazar Bridge, which is the entrance to the city.
Vehicles from the southern districts have to cross this portion, which is a part of Barishal-Khulna or Barishal-Patuakhali highway, to go to any northern area.
Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital, Barishal University, South Apollo Medical College, Marine Academy and many primary schools, high schools and government offices are situated close to the road which is under the Roads and Highway Department (RHD).
Due to its narrowness, the Sagardi Bridge is also a source of suffering for commuters. Vehicles on both sides of the bridge have to remain stuck in traffic congestion for a long time.
"It is supposed to take a maximum of two minutes to pass this one kilometer road, but it often takes 15 minutes to half an hour," said Akijur Rahman, who uses this road regularly. Traffic jams are a regular phenomenon here from morning to evening, he added.
"It takes 20 minutes to reach Rupatoli Bus Stand from Jhalakathi, which is 20 kilometres away, but it takes 15 to 30 minutes to pass the 1.5 kilometre road from Rupatoli to Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital, due to the regular traffic jam on the one kilometer portion of the road," he said, adding that sometimes is becomes very risky for the critical patients.
Sources concerned fear that the situation on this road would worsen further after the inauguration of two new bridges, Lebukhali Bridge in Patuakhali and Bekutia Bridge in Pirojpur, which are scheduled to be opened soon.
"After the inauguration of these two bridges, the traffic congestion will increase as far more vehicles will ply this stretch of road," said Sumon Molla, a leader of transport workers of Rupatoli Bus Stand. "After the opening of the Padma Bridge, the situation would deteriorate further if it is not widened more," he observed.
Width of the road and the bridge have remained the same for two decades, according to the information of local people.
"It used to take me 15 to 20 minutes to reach my university from Banglabazar area of the city in two years ago, but now it takes me at least 40 minutes to an hour, due to the heavy traffic rush on the road," said Bahauddin Golap, assistant registrar of Barihsal University.
"At the same time, the road is also very risky for the pedestrians as it has no footpath. People have to walk on the road along with all the vehicles," he added.
Accidents are frequent here, informed drivers and local shopkeepers. "Minor accidents occur every day due to the narrowness of the road," said Mejba Uddin, a shop owner beside the road.
"We are planning to construct a four lane bypass road outside the city connecting to the Bhanga-Kuakata highway. We have started purchasing land at Bhanga upazila in Faridpur for this purpose. The problem will be solved after the construction of the bypass road," said KH Masud Mahmud Sumon, the executive engineer of Roads and Highways Department, Barishal.