Hundreds of vehicles crossed the Padma Bridge which opened for public use on Sunday morning, a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated it.
Long queues of buses, trucks, cars, motorcycles, and ambulances were seen waiting in hundreds on the Dhaka-Mawa Expressway till the gates of the bridge opened at 6am.
People started thronging the Mawa point of the bridge since yesterday night to cross the bridge at first chance.
However, the situation improved significantly as the day progressed and no tailbacks were reported from the two ends of the bridge since 12pm.
Meanwhile, many people were seen breaking the rules imposed by the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) for the security and protection of the Padma Bridge.
Authorities had earlier said people were not allowed to park their vehicles on the bridge to celebrate, take selfies or take a walk.
However, many crossed the bridge on foot, some got off their vehicles and motorcycles to take selfies, record videos while law enforcers tried to bring the situation undercontrol.
The maximum speed limit for vehicles on the bridge is 60km, the BBA said last week. Many were also seen littering on the bridge, a direct violation of the BBA directives.
BBA Supervising Engineer (Bridge) Md Tofazzel Hossain said, "The toll plazas of the bridge, on both ends, were opened for vehicles at around 5:50am.
"At first there was some pressure due to all the motorcycles. Then the queues got longer with more buses and cars. Now things are normal."
Total five booths are being used to collect tolls out of the seven installed at the Mawa point. Two lanes have been dedicated for goods-laden trucks and the others are for motorcycles and private vehicles.
Officials working at the booths said that motorcycles take less time compared to other vehicles to complete toll formalities. On average it is taking less than a minute for collecting tolls from vehicles at the Mawa toll point.
Meanwhile, at the Jazira point, total six booths are now collecting tolls at a rate of 30 seconds per vehicle. The long tailback which formed during the early hours of Sunday at the Jazira end of the bridge has now eased.
The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card booths -- which allows to automatically collect tolls in just two to three seconds -- is closed today (26 June) on both ends of the bridge.
"Many were eagerly waiting to witness the Padma Bridge on its first day of operation," he added.
Around 100 buses of different companies will make their maiden trips via the Padma Bridge this morning.
A motorcyclist will have to pay Tk100 to cross the Padma Bridge, while the toll is Tk2,400 for a large bus with three axles and Tk2,800 for a medium truck.
In addition, the rate has been set at Tk1,600 for a mini truck (up to five tonnes); Tk2,100 for a medium truck (5-8 tonnes); Tk2,800 for a medium truck (8-11 tonnes); Tk5,500 for truck (up to three axle) and Tk6,000 for trailer (up to four axles).
An additional Tk1,500 will be charged for each axle for a trailer larger than four axles.
Besides, the number of transports on the Dhaka-Khulna Highway saw an increase after the Padma Bridge was opened to the public today.
There are more than 20 Dhaka-bound public transport counters at the Royal Junction in Khulna.
"23 buses left Khulna for Dhaka. Two more buses have been added on the occasion of the bridge's inauguration. If the number of passengers increases, we will also increase the number of buses," said Sharif Al Mamun, manager of Imad Paribahan in Khulna.
He said that Imad Paribahan is charging Tk700 per person on the AC buses and Tk800 on non-AC buses on the Dhaka-Khulna route.
"The first bus left Khulna at 4.50 am today. At the same time, a bus from Dhaka started for Khulna," he added.
Bulbul of Sohag Paribahan Royal said, "Before us, there were two transport companies on the Dhaka-Khulna route. At present, there are a total of 17 bus companies on this route."
Almost all bus companies have increased the number of vehicles on the Dhaka-Khulna route.
The transport fare for all non-AC public buses is Tk600 on the Dhaka-Khulna route. AC bus fares range from Tk700-1,200.
Meanwhile, bus services from Faridpur city will start using the bridge from 1 July.
Arun Saha, manager of Faridpur-based Golden Line bus service, said that they have completed all necessary preparations to use the bridge to enter Dhaka. "We have already set up counters in Kadamtali and Sayedabad. Our buses will leave Faridpur and reach Dhaka via the Padma Bridge from 1 July. Ticket prices will be fixed after a meeting between the BRTA and owners."
"Although a bus of Saudia Paribahan from Faridpur's Alfadanga upazila crossed the Padma Bridge for Dhaka at around 6:30am today, he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 6.15-kilometre Padma Bridge on Saturday. She paid toll as the first traveller on the bridge.