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6 February, 2019 11:29:02 AM
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Road traffic issues must be addressed

A comprehensive and lasting remedy lies in implementing the major projects undertaken so far and executing the other projects to that end
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Road traffic issues must be addressed

Traffic problem has become acute in the capital city of Dhaka. Traffic experts opine that a holistic remedy for problematic traffic in Dhaka lies in execution of the dormant Strategic Transport Plan (STP) along with route franchise. The long-stalled “bus-route franchise” scheme was conceived under the donor-aided STP. This was taken up by the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA). Transport experts from BUET and safe-route campaigners lamented that the scheme for running company buses under route franchise could not take off for subtle opposition by transport lobbies. As a result zillions of passengers suffered for good transports in adequate numbers. Moreover, fatal accidents continued to happen since the old-mode of transport system persisted in the mega-city. Wasting valuable working time and money as well for the commuters, various types of smaller vehicles and ramshackle ones jam the low-capacity city routes for years.
The commuters suffer from inadequate mass transport and also traffic jam with zillions of smaller and non-motorised vehicles. Adding to the city-dwellers' woes, dug-up roads and occupied or wrecked footpaths also hinder smooth pedestrian movement. Defying all protests and efforts for keeping this menace under control, traffic-jam situation in Dhaka metropolitan city is going from bad to worse. Regular traffic congestion in Dhaka is eating up precious working hours and money. For such difficult situation of commuting and pedestrian passage in the city, many reasons are cited – illegal parking is one of the main reasons. On the roads and roadsides, many intra-city and inter-city buses, trucks, cars, freight transports and other vehicles are parked. At many intersections in the capital city of Dhaka, a good number of inter-city buses are parked, all day long for years. This is especially in the morning and night hours, occupying a good portion on both sides of the roads. It has become a regular practice that such indiscriminate parking of hundreds of inter-city and inter-district buses aggravates traffic congestion causing suffering to the commuters in the capital. 

Many a survey finding says that there is a mushroom growth of transport companies and their bus and covered-van counters set up on different roadside spots inside the city. This is making the main roads narrower, disrupting normal movement of traffic and passers-by. As per a recent investigation it is found out that more than 100 unauthorised terminals and stands are there set up on the main roads. The Traffic Department of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said members of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association managed those who matter in this connection in setting up the bus terminals and stands in the city. This is obviously in breach of standing government rules against opening transport counters inside the overpopulated metropolis. About three decades back the government set up only three bus terminals on the city fringes at Mohakhali, Gabtoli and Sayedabad. But the transport experts said that ignoring the terminal rules of government, the power-wielding lobbies occupied, and in many cases, set up terminals and their depots for buses on the rental places. 

Manly for realizing their slices of the hard cash flowing hourly, daily, the bus owners' association leaders and owners also informally set up thousands of ticket counters in the city, and on-drive bus checking posts. They have set up these establishments at and around Technical Morh, Darus Salam, Shyamoli, Kalyanpur, Asadgate, New Market, Kalabagan, Mirpur Mazar Road, Mirpur Section 1, Rainkhola and Mirpur Section 2 centering Gabtoli Bus Terminal. Also set up are depots, terminals and ticket counters under the Mayor Mohammad Hanif Flyover, Fakirerpool, Motijheel, Plassey Square, Maniknagar, Basabo, Malibagh, Arambagh, Kamalapur, Khilgaon, Rampura, Badda, Nardha, Jatrabari, Postagola, Jurain, Signboard and Chattogram Road centering the Sayedabad and Gabtoli bus terminals. They set up establishments for terminals, depots and ticket counters at Airport, Uttara and Abdullahpur points centering the Mohakhali bus terminal. 

Against such a gloomy backdrop of the city’s disorderly transport system, for bringing discipline in traffic-management system, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) was set to begin a campaign afresh to make city-dwellers aware about abiding by the traffic rules and regulations. The DMP had taken up a specific work plan to make a success the 17-day awareness campaign from January 15 to January 31, 2019. The police authorities, as part of the campaign, distributed leaflets, placards, festoons, and guidebooks among the residents alongside holding different awareness programmes involving elites of society. Rover scouts, Red Crescent, Girls Guide and BNCC members were also involved in this endeavour. The traffic police and volunteers were engaged in maintaining traffic discipline beside main roads during the period of resuming classes and break-up of the schools and colleges.  

The DMP also conducted special drive and mobile-court operation to take legal action against violation of traffic rules. These include taming the use of hydraulic horn, hotter, beckoning light, driving vehicle on wrong side and for stopping buses without bus-stops. To bring discipline in the traffic system, check-posts were set up at 29 strategic points in the DMP domain. Passersby were encouraged to use 30 foot over-bridges and keep the doors of buses shut till the next bus stand comes. Signals were controlled with remote control at intersections from Shaheed Jahangir Gate to Zero Point via Farmgate, Sonargaon, Shahbag, Matsya Bhaban, Kadam Foara, and High Court. The road stretching from Farmgate to Satrasta remained open for traffic movement. 

However, these measures were aimed at providing an immediate solution to the problems. But a comprehensive and lasting remedy lies in implementing the major projects undertaken so far and executing the other projects to that end. In this respect, in the wake of an unprecedented student uprising for safe route, the latest law endorsed by the then cabinet, could make things easy. Amid the student movement for road safety on August 6, 2018, the then cabinet at its regular weekly meeting gave the final approval for the Road Transport Act 2018. The lasting remedy to the problem probably lies in implementing this Act at the earliest, cooperation of the commuters, transport owners and drivers and honesty of the traffic police officials in duty to control transport vehicular movement. 

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General 

Education Cadre

SHK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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