The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has taken an initiative to close all four unauthorised U-turns on a two-kilometre stretch on the Matuail-Sanarpar route, which witnessed hundreds of mishaps in the last couple of years.
The department said it will make a Dhaka-city-like U-turn in Sanarpar – 1.5km ahead of Matuail – to replace the 180° reverse turns made by transport workers cutting across the median.
The RHD also attributes the unauthorised U-turns to the chaotic traffic in Matuail causing accidents that have claimed at least 10 lives in recent years.
"There were no U-turns on the 2km patch. Transport workers and locals cut across the median at least at four points on their own. We found traffic congestion is frequent at these points, and accidents are taking place there," said Md Shakhawat Hossain, a sub-divisional engineer at the RHD.
Shakhawat said the new U-turn in Sanarpar will leave six lanes – three on both sides of the road – completely dedicated for long-haul and high-speed vehicles while metro bus services will use the remaining two lanes.
RHD Executive Engineer Mohammad Mahade Iqbal told The Business Standard the new U-turn will be completed within the next two months.
According to Matuail residents, at least three major accidents occurred on the patch in the last one month while minor and major mishaps in the last two years amounted to more than 100.
Residents say most minor incidents go unreported.
"One or two accidents a day are quite common here. Most of the victims are bikers, rickshaw-pullers and pedestrians," said Md Mainuddin Mridha, a shopkeeper near the Matuail Mother and Child Hospital.
Md Harun, a bus driver, says since Matuail is the last stop, buses compete making U-turns to pick up passengers for the round trip.
Sometimes, there are also accidents when rickshaws or pedestrians suddenly come in front of speeding vehicles. Though there is a foot overbridge in the area, elderly citizens, children and women prefer jaywalking as they say taking the overpass is "laborious".