Anyone not familiar with the area will surely hesitate to decide whether it is a highway or a cropland.
The Bhola-Barishal highway at a number of points would give rise to such confusion, with its dilapidated state causing huge sufferings to thousands of commuters and hiking risk of road accidents.
Carpeting got heavily damaged and countless potholes developed on the road that is regularly used by people of 16 south-western districts, including Bhola, Barishal, Satkhira, Barguna, Jashore, Pirojpur, Khulna, Bagerhat.
Specially, 10.5 km portion from Laxmipur to Maju Chowdhury Hat of the highway is now in horrible condition.
Although the Road Transport and Highways Division has done minor repair works on the highway at different times, it didn’t sustain due to the excessive pressure of heavy vehicles.
Thousands of sand and stone laden lorries now use the highway to carry construction materials to the Noakhali-Cumilla highway that is being upgraded into a four-lane one.
The Maju Chowdhury Hat is nothing less than an industrial zone as a total of ten sand and stone fields were set up there. Besides, there are ghats for docking launches, cargo vessels and ferries.
Consignments of rods, cement and other construction materials reach here through water-route and later enter the adjacent districts using the Bhola-Barishal highway.
Aside from lack of repair work, excessive pressure of heavy vehicles is also greatly responsible for the poor state of the highway.
When it is the dry season, commuters struggle to breathe as thick fog filled with dust overlays the highway and adjacent areas.
During the rainy season, the commuters can breathe in fresh air but struggle to commute due to the muddy condition of the road.
Now, road accidents have been a common scenario of the highway thanks to the dilapidated condition of carpeting and frequent potholes.
While visiting the highway recently, the passenger buses, lorries were seen to move slowly on the highway.
But light vehicles like four-wheelers, CNG-run auto-rickshaws were frequently being stuck in muddy pits created on the road.
Sometimes, it took several hours to get the wheels out of the pits.
Locals said the road has long been in dilapidated condition despite being an important route of the country.
Hundreds of goods laden vehicles and passenger buses in addition to light vehicles regularly ply on the highway.
Using the highway becomes riskier after the sunset as there is no streetlamp.
Taslim Uddin, a truck driver, said the road has been in such a sorry state for the last three years.
“There are thousands of water-filled potholes that turned the road into a death-trap. Vehicles frequently get stuck in these pits and go out of order and create long queues of vehicles on both ends,” he added.
According to Laxmipur Road Transport and Highways Department, the tender process to upgrade the 10.5 km portion into a four-lane one was completed last year.
But the contractor is yet to get the work order as the comparative statement (CS) has not been passed in the ministry.
Md Mojammel Haque, sub-divisional engineer of Laxmipur RTHD, said the road can’t be repaired as all formalities of a tender to widen the highway were completed on December 19 last year.
Although the upgradation work was not done due to some difficulties, no other tender was floated to repair the road, he added.