Friday, March 22, 2019 | ePaper

Political leadership needed to bring discipline in transport sector

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ALTHOUGH the country witnessed a significant urban growth in the last few decades, there was an absence of proper planning and institutions in the urban transport sector, causing indiscipline and mismanagement there, experts and activists mentioned in a roundtable on Saturday to press political parties to incorporate plans in their electoral manifestos for bringing discipline in this sector, as per local daily reports.
They said there must be a political commitment to end anarchy in the sector, a demand which came to the fore after several passengers died or suffered severe injuries in accidents recently. The organisers, Road Safety Foundation and Accident Research Institute (ARI) of BUET, had invited 16 political parties, but nine parties, including the ruling Awami League, BNP, Jatiya Party and CPB, did not take part in the discussion.
Representatives of seven parties present there promised to incorporate road safety issue in their electoral manifesto. Traffic congestion in Dhaka eats up around 5 million working hours every day and the average speed of vehicles during rush hours has come down to 5km/h, as per an ARI study. The congestion causes an annual loss of between Tk 20,000 crore and Tk 55,000 crore, as per findings of organisations working on the issue.
In the absence of a single authority to look after city's transport sector, everyone avoids responsibility. Examples from different megacities, including London and Mumbai indicate that there should have a single institution to take all the responsibilities relating to transport under a specific law.
It does not require much beyond commonsense to realise that Dhaka has only a few major arteries running from north to south and east to west. Any primary transport policy must take this into cognizance and move forward--but all we have been able to do in the last ten years is continue to make flyovers and to build an MRT--but that too in its preliminary stage.
We need to make more options available to our residents including, but not limited to, the presence of a subway train system to make Dhaka livable once again. It is doubtful that the MRT system will by itself reduce overall traffic times as it can only carry 60,000 passengers per hour at its peak--an insignificant number compared to our commuters. Lack of political leadership on behalf of the people is responsible for thoughtless mismanagement in sector of public life.

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