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27 March, 2020 12:19:28 PM
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Why the reluctance to use foot over bridges?

There are still no foot over-bridges at many crucial points or intersections in the capital
Abu Md Masani
Why the reluctance to use foot over bridges?

Maybe it is not possible to make people change their old habits overnight in Bangladesh, but it is certainly possible to raise awareness among them. Dhaka residents seem very much reluctant to use foot-bridges. The reason behind this is yet to be discovered.

Wherever you go in the capital city, you will see people are crossing roads like obstacle courses. Although there are so many fully functional foot-bridges close by, these pedestrians decide against using them and nonchalantly walk across the busiest streets, risking life and limb.

The capital city is thriving to become modern from every possible perspective. It is transforming itself everyday and developing fast as the country’s centre of educational, cultural, commercial and political hub. In recent years, we have seen the mushrooming of mega shopping malls, expensive restaurants, fancy cafés, trendy boutiques, spa/ beauty parlours, apartment buildings and  five-star hotels, all the stuff that make a city apparently colourful and affluent at first glance.

And being the capital and geographical centre, Dhaka is also the country’s main transportation hub. But we suffer from a chaotic public transport system, which gets worse with poor traffic control system, causing extensive travel mayhem to the commoners.

The experience of commuting by public transport is horrible for most. Those who use public buses know the real pain of reaching their respective destinations every single day. To go to my office, I always use public bus.

I do not like CNG auto-rickshaws as most of them are not ready to go our destination on the meter, and often, they don’t want to go a short distance. I also don’t use rider sharing service (bike) because of a sense of fear. When I am on a public transport, I see that most people do not use a foot over-bridge and cross the road right in front of a running bus! It is a common scene in the capital every day, even on the busiest roads.

My personal experience is that the jaywalkers significantly contribute to traffic jams as drivers are forced to slow down to avoid running them over. Many mobile courts have been conducted in the area and magistrates have fined many instantly. But nothing has changed, and people continue with their old habits and cross the with utter nonchalance.  Even road dividers with barbed-wire fences cannot stop them as they climb over.

When a school is over for the day, what do we see? We see guardians crossing the road carelessly with their children just raising their hands to stop oncoming bus or car. Although they can use the foot over-bridge easily, they don’t do it. Sometimes, drivers have to brake hard, at the risk of an accident. I have also witnessed so many accidents during my everyday travel.  

There were five foot over-bridges from Mirpur-11 to Shewrapara. Of them two had to be removed due to Metro rail construction. But city residents did not use those properly. The bridge at Mirpur-11(now removed) in front of Bangla School always was unused. Often, so many accidents occur. It is a common scene.

To stop this, it is more important to raise awareness of the people, rather than punishing them for their wrongdoing. But it will take years to improve the situation. If continuous campaign is conducted against jaywalkers, if the traffic police continue to hinder their movement and if mobile courts operate on regular basis, perhaps, then the situation will improve.

There are other things that need to be effectively addressed. There are still no foot over-bridges at many crucial points or intersections in the capital. Or the bridges are occupied by hawkers or beggars, like at Farm Gate or New Market areas. Moreover-bridges have to be constructed at strategic points and those that are occupied have to be made pedestrian-friendly.

If we don’t use the bridges, then hawkers will obviously reoccupy them. So, we have to make the habit of using them. If we can do it abroad, then why don’t we do it in our own country?

Moreover, when an accident takes place, who is to blame? Only vehicles? But why? Why don’t we people take responsibility, too?

The writer is a Sub Editor of, The Independent

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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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