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21 July, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 20 July, 2019 11:04:10 PM
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Pedestrians avoid footbridges at risk of life and limb

‘53.4pc of pedestrians not using footbridges or underpasses as they face a number of problems’
MUBTASIM FUAD, Dhaka
Pedestrians avoid footbridges at risk of life and limb

People crossing busy roads by running past moving vehicles is a common sight in the capital. Yet, even the traffic police remain oblivious to such violations of rules at a time when the city's footbridges are standing forlorn. Throughout the city, though there are footbridges, they remain unused, and people frequently use the roads to get across. People usually cross the roads waving their hands, even though that is illegal.

Despite the presence of numerous footbridges on the busy roads of Dhaka, most of the pedestrians prefer to cross the streets on their

own, risking probable accidents and fatalities.

According to data of the two Dhaka city corporations, currently there are 43 footbridges in the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) area and 31 under the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC).

Khokon Sohidul Alam, a traffic police constable at Shahbag intersection, told The Independent that if any of the jaywalkers is asked about the importance of using footbridges, it is certain that none of them will put arguments to the contrary.

“Yet, knowing fully well the risk of crossing busy roads, they are reluctant to take a few steps upwards,” he said.

Nijamur Rahman, a driver of Bihongo Paribahan—a public transport organisation in the capital—express his dissatisfaction, saying that the drivers cannot be blamed for accidents all the time.

“While driving, if someone suddenly appears in front of their vehicles, they usually do not have the necessary time to react. Sometimes drivers are conscious and they can react in time to save the passer-by, but at other times they fail to stop

in time, and an accident takes

place,” he said.

“When traffic signals are open, we are in a hurry. During that window of time, if pedestrians use the foot-over-bridge, we don’t have to face any kind of hassle on the busy roads,” he added.

In a 2018 report titled ‘A study on the efficiency of foot overpasses and underpasses in Dhaka City’, researchers found that in Dhaka, 86 per cent of the road deaths are those of pedestrians.

The study further found that pedestrians face many problems while using foot-over-bridges but for that, most of them are willing to use foot-over-bridges. It found that 46.6 per cent of pedestrians are using foot-over-bridges or underpasses and 53.4 per cent of pedestrians are not using foot-over-bridges or underpasses.

An analysis of the topic showed that the most efficient overpass is Farmgate overpass, where the pedestrian passing rate is 94 per cent. On

the other hand, the minimum rate of passing of pedestrians is 17 per cent, which is at the Gulisthan underpass.  A questionnaire survey among over 500 people found that about 94 per cent of pedestrians think that public awareness is the key factor to attract people to use foot-over-bridges and underpasses for ensuring safety while crossing.

Hawkers on foot-over-bridges are a major irritant in recent times in Dhaka as they hamper the pedestrians’ flow on a great scale. About 90 per cent pedestrians think hawkers should be stringently evicted. A major portion of pedestrians

recommended installing escalators that can provide facilities to all type of pedestrians, including physically disabled people.

The authorities had launched drives several times to curb jaywalking in the capital. The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) had carried out special drives in an attempt to instil discipline among jaywalkers. Jaywalkers were fined several times in the capital.

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) also had taken several steps at different times, holding an awareness-based counselling programme for the people who tend to walk straight across the roads instead of using foot-over-bridges in the capital.

Sources said the DMP North and South Traffic Divisions announced such programmes in order to inculcate awareness among the masses. Under this programme, people who try to walk straight across the busy road instead of using the foot-over-bridge will be bound to attend an hour-long road awareness class held by the DMP that very moment, and released only after finishing this class.

To preclude this practice, the DMP has taken up this counselling programme at different spots several times in the capital. Pedestrians were asked to read various leaflets on traffic laws and traffic awareness provided by police members. Traffic personnel gave them verbal guidance.

During a recent visit to foot-over-bridges, this reporter found that pedestrians were rarely using the bridges located near Shishu Park, Ramna Park, National Press Club, Karwan Bazar, National Museum, Asad Gate and Kazipara areas.

On the other hand, the city’s residents are mostly using foot-over-bridges at Farmgate, Mirpur-10, Mirpur-1, Kakoli and Banani. But these bridges remain occupied by the vendors. A number of foot-over bridges were seen to be in a derelict state. Generally, people are not interested in using the foot-over-bridges as these are lying in a dilapidated condition.

The foot-over-bridges in front of Ramna Park, Asad Gate, Paribagh, Notre Dame College and Banglabazar were found to be quite dirty, with human excreta and waste.

DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam told The Independent that if all commuters follow the rules, then everyone will use the foot-over-paths. “We all should become good citizens. For that, we all should use foot-over-bridges for crossing roads,” he said.

“Within a month, the city corporation will organise an awareness programme so that citizens are attracted towards foot-over-passes,” he promised.

Probir Kumar Roy, the deputy commissioner (DC) (traffic–North), told The Independent that the traffic police’s awareness programme is always active near every foot-over-path. “We have put up signboards at the entrances and exits of every foot-over-bridge which say, ‘Thank you for using the foot-over-bridge,” Probir Roy said.

“We have prepared a counselling and awareness programme room at Kakoli. When pedestrians cross the roads without using foot-over-bridges, we gathered them and took them to that room and gave them leaflets, showed them videos and also inspired to use bridges to cross roads,” the DC said.

“After filing their names, fathers’ names, addresses and contact numbers, we let them go, after extracting their promise that they will never cross the road without using the foot-over-bridge,” Probir Roy added.

 

 

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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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