While visiting Cox's Bazar, Ashraful Islam got on an easy bike in Chattogram city at around 6.30am. Even at such an early hour, was stuck in traffic – a common phenomenon according to the bike driver.
However, the driver informed him that the situation would change very soon as the 8-kilometre road from the entrance of Cox's Bazar town to Laboni Point in Kolatoli beach was being developed into a four-lane road.
The number of tourists and commuters in the district has increased over the recent years due to various government initiatives on tourism and the presence of Rohingyas refugees.
Nearly 1 million Rohingyas are now living in Cox's Bazar and more than a 100 local and international NGOs are working with them. This has put heavy pressure on the traffic in the area.
All inbound vehicles have to ply through the narrow road. As there are no footpaths, pedestrians have to walk through the road, risking their lives.
There is no space for parking vehicles either.
Kauser Alam, a private service holder in Chattogram city, said, "The distance between the port city and Cox's Bazar is about 157km. Although it is supposed to take less than three hours to cover the distance, it takes four to five hours.
"Driving through the traffic jam on the Link Road at the entrance of Cox's Bazar town takes an extra 30 minutes. We have to go through this bitter experience whenever we come to visit Cox's Bazar," he added.
Nazmul Hassan, contractor of the four-lane road project, said the project is supposed to finish by 2020.
"We are trying to finish the project in the shortest possible time. But at the same time, we are focusing on the quality of the work," he added.
The road will connect the Link Road with Kolatoli Bypass, Notun Jailkhana (new prison), police line and the bus terminal.
Cox's Bazar municipality Mayor Mujibur Rahman inaugurated the Tk288-crore project in December 2018.
"Most of the road falls under the municipality. We are prioritising on the quality of the work. Tourism and communication sectors of Cox's Bazar will be developed a lot after the project is completed."
Roads and Highways Department Executive Engineer Pintu Chakma said the four-lane road would be 71-feet-wide with a 10-feet-wide road divider. Each lane will be six-feet-wide. Drains will also be constructed on both sides of the road.
"Out of Tk288 crore, Tk90 crore has been allocated for compensating those whose lands have been acquired for the project. The remaining amount will be spent on construction," said Pintu.
Digging and earth filling on one side of the road from Laboni Point to Link Road has been finished, he said.
"Now, the construction will begin. We hope that the project will be completed by this year."
Abdul Kader Mishu, owner of Ocean Paradise Hotel at Cox's Bazar, praised the initiative. "Everybody in the region will be benefitted if the construction of the four-lane road is completed in time."