The traffic congestion of Dhaka city has already gone beyond the forbearance of the city dwellers and is getting acute day by day. Its solution calls for both short term and long term measures. Some short-term steps can ease the existing traffic jam of the city. To address it very effectively, it calls for a long term policy which includes the four basic principles of traffic system-(i) Traffic enforcement (ii)Traffic education (iii)Traffic engineering (iv)Traffic environment
In order to implement the long-term policy it questions our affordability. In the midst of financial limitations, the government has taken some long-term measures which prove to be not sufficient comparing to the magnanimity of the problem. Let us think of short-term policy first to relieve the city dwellers of traffic congestion.
25 percent space should be for the movement and parking of vehicles in a city whereas Dhaka city has only 7 percent such place invoking a natural cause for being traffic jam. It is very practical that we don't have sufficient place for allowing the vehicles freely. Necessarily there will be some jam. But in absence of broad road and passages, some other alternative means was supposed to be devised to ease the jam but that has not yet been done. There are 129 routes in Dhaka where vehicles ply every day. DMP is planning to limit it within 40 routs. 20 for city and another 20 for the vehicles coming and going from and to the suburbs or for the vehicles of adjoining towns such as Gazipur,
Narayanganj, Manikganj and Munshiganj. Fixed number of vehicles will ply on particular streets. That's good but the number of vehicles already proves much lower than the number of population in the city of Dhaka. We don't need to go far to seek this truth. During office going and coming time, hundreds and thousands of passengers keep stranded in numerous spots of the city .Dhaka city has eighty-five thousand legal rickshaws whereas it has more than six lakh rickshaws. Still it becomes awfully difficult to get a rickshaw during office going and coming time. Rickshaw pullers don't want to go to the passengers' expected destinations. They just wait in particular places to move to some particulars areas causing traffic jam as well as tremendous problems to the passengers. Law must be enacted to enhance the facilities of the passengers as well as to lessen the knot of traffic jam. Law must be mostly in favor of the passengers. If a rickshaw remains vacant and it must go to any passenger's desired destination. It will lessen the passenger's problem and decrease the jam.
In all the busy points there must be foot over bridges and no pedestrians will be allowed to cross the roads where foot over bridges are constructed. All the news media, police, schools, market, garment workers will get the message and briefing from their attached and concerned authorities to use foot over bridge. Many busy points of the city don't have foot over bridges. Pedestrians are to cross the road every minute making the processions of vehicles stopped and stranded. Its effect spreads several miles. Again, there are many over bridges which are not used by the pedestrians because of habit, lack of awareness and law enforcement. From now on it must be made compulsory to use foot over bridges and the remaining crowd and busy points must see the immediate construction of foot over bridges.
The roads which see both mechanized and non-mechanized vehicles use must make exclusive space for non-mechanized vehicles. It will ensure both easy and quick passage and movement of mechanized vehicles. Again, the accentual casualties will get lessened. Now what happens, the non-mechanized vehicles and mechanized ones go side by side causing the disturbance to each other. A little touch or hassle invites serious hassle, crowd and chaos causing serious traffic jam. So, these roads must be separated by railings so that both rickshaws and buses and cars can move according to their own speed.
All kinds of vehicles become seriously scarce during office hour and after the breakup of the offices. The number of vehicles and their capacity prove far less than the existing population of Dhaka city. Commuters not only fail their appointment but also wait for long to have a transport. To avail even a rickshaw a commuter is to wait a lot and bargain with many rickshaw pullers. In case of CNG and taxicab the situation stand far worse. In this situation, lessening the number of vehicles from the city roads will in no way ease the problem of the city dwellers. Rather it will invite several new problems including the existing ones. Rather law should be strictly enforced that rickshaws , CNGs and taxi-cabs must move according to the commuter's desire. Traffic police and sergeants must take extra care for it and take necessary steps to implement it as we find in many countries of the world. No CNG; no rickshaw will be allowed to wait in a particular place for long. This situation goes on in big cities like London and Beijing. No taxi cab stand in a particular place for long. Fair should be fixed by the authorities concerned which will be displayed in all the possible and available ways and venues so that all sorts of people can learn it very easily. There will be no haggling and bargaining with the CNG, taxi drivers and rickshaw pullers. Barging with them and their desire not to go without their chosen places cause serious traffic jam and untold miseries to millions of commuters. This situation must come to an.
Many buses with many stations should be introduced. It will lessen people's dependence on rickshaws and other small and private vehicles. Private vehicles and rickshaws kill much of our limited space of the city. If big and luxurious buses can be introduced, the intensity of traffic jam must be thinner and the people will lose interest in rickshaws because of comfort and cheapness and jam will be thinner.
All the schools and colleges will have to introduce their own transports for their students. When many students go to schools and colleges by personal transport and rickshaws , a serious traffic jam occurs around the institutions and its impact influences the adjoining areas of the institutions. School timing should be changed with the office timing. No rickshaw, CNG, taxi will say 'no' to any student. They must take the students to any school. It is a serious problem I see everyday hundreds of guardians stand beside the road with their kids to request the rickshaws and CNGs with much tension as school gates will be closed. During the examinations the situation becomes worse. The authorities must give a serious thought to this point. To implement these points and things, we do not need extra expenditure but some concerted efforts.
For the last several years Dhaka city has experienced some good city bus service with ticket counters stationed in various spots of the city. It's far better than picking up passengers whenever and wherever they like. Passengers enjoy this facility very much and have lessened the burden and dependence on rickshaws. But some peculiar things sometimes happen. To ease the traffic jam, traffic police sometimes removes these bus counters on the plea that they cause problems to the pedestrians and traffic jam. Actually, these ticket counters offer much civic facilities to the city dwellers. Ticket counters may cause a little bit problems to the pedestrians, but its return is greater than this little problem. So, these counters should not be abolished under any false pretext. This kind of bus service makes the people civic and disciplined. This culture has been imported from western countries just several years back. We must extend this facility throughout the city.
Every year traffic jam claims national loss amounting to 15000 taka. In order to find its real solution, both long term and short-term measures must be taken. Along with taking long-term measures, mid-term and short-term steps could be implemented employing much less expenditure and effort. The writer works for BRAC Education Program and formerly worked in Cadet Colleges and Rajuk College