POST TIME: 3 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Ensure utilisation of footbridges

Ensure utilisation 
of footbridges

It is disturbing to note that since pedestrians prefer to jaywalk to cross streets, footbridges built at various important intersections in Dhaka are barely serving their purpose. Moreover, several of these bridges are in a dilapidated condition, encroached on by hawkers and shady characters like eve-teasers and drug addicts. Most of the footbridges in the capital have been either grabbed by hawkers, who have set up makeshift shops, or beggars, causing inconvenience to pedestrians. Footbridges have been constructed in the capital for easy and hassle-free movement of pedestrians but those are occupied by unauthorized makeshift shops erected by hawkers.      

Occupation of footpaths illegally by hawkers and others in the capital city is a chronic practice, now occupation of footbridges is the extension of the same. Almost all the footbridges in the two city corporations of the capital remain occupied by hawkers and others, triggering immense problems for the pedestrians. The footbridges located at busy intersections or beside markets are mostly taken up by hawkers eyeing quick sales from their strategically placed make-shift shops. Homeless people and vagabonds also use it for open defecation at night. There are also menaces of drug addicts and roaming sex workers.

The relevant authorities conduct drives from time to time to evict the hawkers and others but that is short-lived. The hawkers who are allegedly patronized by a section of police and local political leaders return to the previous places and continue their business afresh. It is an open secret that the hawkers have to pay tolls to the law enforcers and political activists in exchange for their help. Over the past few years the capital city has expanded both horizontally and vertically with its burgeoning population. The problems of the capital city have also multiplied. Severe traffic jam and hurdles in movement of pedestrians along the footpaths and footbridges are some of the problems that confront the city-dwellers.

The issue of survival of hawkers should also not be ignored. There are many open spaces lying unutilized in the capital city not far from the footbridges. Those can be used for the hawkers. If it is done the footpaths and footbridges will be freed from illegal occupation. This will facilitate free movement of pedestrians and help reduce traffic jams. It is the responsibility of the two city corporations and Dhaka Metropolitan Police to keep the footbridges free of encroachers. What is needed is round the clock and sustainable supervision and vigilance. Generation of mass awareness is also needed.