Thursday, March 21, 2019 | ePaper

Dhaka: The city of traffic

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Md Niaz Azad :
The word ‘Sustainable’ isn’t something one would use when describing a third world country. And surely, Peoples Republic of Bangladesh and its government haven’t done much to change that point. As a developing country, Bangladesh has been showing great potential of becoming a major economic power in the world for the last decade, but till now that vision hasn't come close to reality.
The country itself has been rapidly developing itself in terms of technology and other aspects, but over the year the government has failed many times to produce a sustainable economic growth. The root cause of that is its immensely growing population.
Associating population to national problems may seen unethical in some cases, in Bangladesh, it has become matter of national crisis. It  has a population of around 15 million, where the city is only 275 square kilometres. This has transformed Dhaka into a mad house of traffic. The traffic system of the whole country has countless failures in its infrastructure.
In the last year alone, more than 20 thousand people lost their lives in street accidents, because of the cities ignorant traffic rules. While people are absolutely furious with the government for the lack of traffic administration, facts will say that the government isn't the major party to be blamed for this.
In the last 10 years, the government has established three different flyover routes in Dhaka alone. After the recent development of the Mouchak-Mogbazar flyover, high hopes remained for traffic pressure to decrease in the city, but things did not turn out exactly as planned. In the last three days, traffic volume has increased at least 1 per cent in the subjected areas.
But even after all these development plans, question still remains about how the authority can establish a stable traffic situation. The answer may remain in the cities Bus transportation system. Bangladesh has Asia’s one of the largest BTS.
The majority of the local bus services are private owned, but travelling in their vehicles can be nightmare for anyone.
Drivers continue to stop buses anywhere to pick up or drop off passengers increasing traffic congestions and the risks of accidents on capital’s streets, said experts.
The errant drivers also compel passengers to get in or get down from speeding buses even at busy intersections endangering their life and limbs, they said. The traffic rules are flouted in the very presence of the police who turn a blind eye possibly due to underhand dealings, said experts.
There is no traffic management on the capital’s streets.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police and the two city corporations blame each other for the traffic chaos caused by the preference of the drivers not to use the designated bus stoppages and the bays in the capital. No satisfactory answers could be given by officials of Dhaka South City Corporation, Dhaka North City Corporation or the police as to why a solution to traffic congestions remained elusive in the capital.
The death of veteran journalist Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury while alighting from a running mini bus at Karwan Bazar Crossing in November 2014 highlighted the capital's lingering traffic management crisis.
Iqbal Habib, urban planner and joint secretary of BPA blamed faulty traffic mismanagement and absence of political commitment for the capital’s traffic getting more and more anarchic. “If people get the needed facilities they will follow the rules,” he told the media.
The government should introduce bus rapid transit for quick and hassle-free movement of commuters, he said.
Iqbal also said that no interest was taken to structuring traffic flow in the capital as it would dry up unlawful collections for many.

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