Inadequate planning for U-turns at different traffic points from the capital's Tejgaon to Uttara road are adding to traffic congestion, overshadowing the benefits of U-shaped vehicle turning junctions.
At around 11:00am on Sunday morning, vehicles coming from the Mohakhali flyover and Amtoli area were seen moving at a snail's pace near the U-turn point at Chairmanbari area.
Within a short period of time, the gridlock extended back to most parts of the flyover and the Amtoli intersection. The wide space of the four-lane road, constructed by the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), naturally becomes narrow at the U-turn, which despite making vehicle turning easier, is adding to commuters' misery.
On the other side of the road, sufferings were just the same for the Mohakhali-bound vehicles.
"On this route, most of the time vehicular movement is high, which leads to gridlocks," said an on-duty traffic police officer.
"Before this U-turn was made, the duration for each signal was around 3-5 minutes, but no signal system is active currently," he added.
According to Mohakhali Traffic Zone Assistant Commissioner Ashfaq Ahmed, the congestion from U-turns is happening because these were constructed without any coordination with the traffic division.
"The DNCC did not consult us regarding the traffic pressure against particular times of the day. They chose to keep additional spaces for beautification, which in effect has narrowed the main road," he told The Business Standard.
He added that, according to the DNCC design, the Amtoli crossing had been closed. Gulshan-1-bound vehicles had to take a U-turn from Chairmanbari.
"However, due to the heavy traffic pressure after the lockdown was lifted, the Amtoli crossing was opened," he stated.
The DNCC constructed two other U-turns at Nabisco and beside Mohakhali bus terminal with the same design. Most buses leaving from the terminal take a U-turn from the Nabisco point. The construction of a U-turn at this comparatively narrow road has further narrowed it, due to which larger vehicles have trouble taking U-turns.
Kabir Hossain, a driver of Islam Paribahan, which operates on the Dhaka-Mymensingh route, told The Business Standard, "This U-turn is okay for smaller vehicles but not ideal for bigger transports. The road should have been widened before making the U-turn."
Apart from Chairmanbari and Nabisco Junction, the DNCC used the same design to construct U-turns at Uttara's Rajlakkhi Complex and RAB-1 Office, Flying Club in Kawla, Banani Overpass, Banani Army Stadium, Mohakhali Bus Terminal and BG Press area in Satrasta.
The U-loop project of DNCC started in December 2016. The cost of the project, following revision, was increased to Tk31.80 crores. The project was completed in June 2021.
At the beginning, the U-turns in front of BG Press and Nabisco were opened, which did not yield the expected results.
The DNCC at the time said that the problem would be solved when U-turns were opened.
The U-turns in Uttara produced good results, thanks to the larger roads in the area, but at other U-turns the benefits are not the same, according to traffic police officials and people who regularly use this route.
Asked for his comments, Khandaker Mahbub Alam, the DNCC supervising engineer and U-turn project director, advised this correspondent to go to the DNCC office and talk about the matter.
Md Shafiqur Rahman, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Traffic Admin and Research) at the Traffic Division, told The Business Standard, "We reached out to the DNCC regarding the U-turn problem. But they neither took any steps nor informed us if they had taken any decision on resolving the issue."
Dr Md Shamsul Hoque, a professor of Civil Engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology, told The Business Standard, "Such U-turns are not suitable for a major road in the capital."
According to him, U-turns in places like Purbachal are ideal where traffic pressure is low.