Traffic out of KL slows to a crawl as Raya exodus begins

The scene is repeated all over Asia as Muslims pack highways, airports and train stations in the 'balik kampung' rush.

Many city folk have begun to leave for their hometowns to celebrate Hari Raya with loved ones. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Traffic has begun to build up on major roads out of Kuala Lumpur as the Hari Raya exodus begins.

The Malaysian Highway Authority reported heavy traffic heading north and also to the east coast.

Among others, it said on Twitter that north-bound traffic is slow from Tanjung Malim to Behrang, Slim River to Sungkai, Tapah to Gopeng and the Menora Tunnel to Sungai Perak.

Those travelling to the east coast will encounter traffic congestion from Gombak to Genting Sempah and Lentang to Bentong.

A Reuters report said traffic is expected to soar by some 70% over the usual volume as city folk rush back to their hometowns and villages to celebrate with loved ones.

The scene is repeated in most Muslim-populated cities across Asia where millions are on the move.

From Karachi to Kuala Lumpur, highways, airports and train stations were jam-packed in the annual exodus that made Indonesia’s usually traffic-clogged capital Jakarta look like a ghost town.

Some 70% of Indonesia’s residents – about eight million people – headed for other cities and villages across the vast archipelago, home to the world’s biggest Muslim-majority population.

About 32 million Indonesians were estimated to be on the move this week, while some 50 million in Bangladesh were thought to be heading home.

“This year some 11.5 million people will leave the capital Dhaka to go back to their villages to celebrate Eid,” Reuters quoted Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, general secretary of the Passengers Welfare Association, as saying.

Afghans, meanwhile, are hoping for a peaceful Hari Raya after the Taliban announced their first ceasefire since the 2001 US invasion.

The group agreed to stop attacking Afghan security forces for the first three days of the holiday, overlapping with the government’s week-long halt to hostilities against the militants.

In the capital Kabul, traffic was worse than usual as families defied the threat of suicide attacks ahead of the holiday to stock up on dried fruits, nuts, sweets and cookies.

Pakistanis are also complaining of congestion as authorities said they expect road traffic to more than double ahead of the holiday.

The country’s railways have announced special “Eid trains” with extra carriages and discounts to tackle the rush.

India, which has a 180 million-strong Muslim minority population, does not see a huge annual mass migration.

But Delhi bank clerk Shakir Khan is among those who will be headed home for the holiday.

“We live in a very fast-paced world and Eid is always special as it gives you a chance to reconnect with your family and friends,” the 29-year-old told AFP.

Hari Raya is expected to be celebrated on Friday in Malaysia.

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