Published:  12:33 AM, 03 February 2019

Traffic mismanagement: Back to square one!

Most of the people blame overpopulation, corrupted traffic police, too many private cars, unplanned urbanization and frequent digging work on roads as the main causes behind traffic congestion. Academic experts and civil society members have laid emphasis on administrative decentralization to improve the living standard of people inside Dhaka city which includes better traffic management too.

Most of the drivers of buses and trucks park their vehicles haphazardly on the roads which are responsible for barring or slowing down the movement of other transports which leads to traffic jams every now and then. Vehicles which have to travel by the roads across Mohakhali, Tejgaon and Sat Rasta, have to consume a great deal of time standing still on the way.

Dhaka North City Corporation's (DNCC) late mayor Annisul Huq initiated some courageous measures effectively including removal of illegal truck stands from Tejgaon during 2015. Annisul Huq's efforts remarkably curtailed traffic jams in different parts of DNCC through his devoted and uncompromising works but in his absence those areas have reportedly once again come under unauthorized occupation.

Under these circumstances, the city dwellers have urged both city corporations to carry out firm initiatives to fight against those quarters who cause traffic congestion and other forms of inconvenience on the roads by violating rules.
As monsoon begins with heavy rainfall, the sufferings of commuters cross all bounds since most of the roads under DNCC and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) go under water after a few hours of downpour. Water gets stagnated on most of the roads as most of the drains across Dhaka city are clogged up with waste materials.

Not just Tejgaon, traffic jams have been worsening in some more areas such as Uttara, Mirpur, Farmgate, Mohakhali, Jatrabari, Shantinagar, Kamalapur, Mogh Bazar, Malibagh, Dhanmondi etc. Most of the vehicles do not care about traffic regulations while there are also complaints about unholy alliance between transport workers and traffic police. Allegedly most transport workers pay bribes to traffic police which is why policemen do not take actions against unruly drivers.

In recent times road accidents in Dhaka city have seriously increased. Several people have meanwhile succumbed to their injuries after losing hands and legs. A few months ago students of different schools and colleges heavily demonstrated against traffic mismanagement. Things became rather disciplined at that time. But after several weeks everything seems to have come back to square one.

Reportedly roads in several parts of Aminbazar, Tejgaon, Mohakhali, Mirpur, Abdullahpur and some more places are undergoing much disorder. Traffic jam is one of the most troublesome perils in Dhaka city. Most of the residents of Dhaka are victims to this predicament. People find it very difficult to reach their workplaces on time every morning because of irresistible traffic tailbacks. Traffic jam does not decrease in the evening either. There have been a number of research works by different institutions on the reasons behind constant traffic jams in Dhaka city.

Most of the people from all parts of the country have to arrive in Dhaka for jobs, higher studies, official purposes, business and so on. The government should consider shifting some administrative units outside Dhaka, according to urban specialists. Esteemed citizens have also urged manufacturers to set up factories and industries away from Dhaka so that people residing in other cities can find jobs without leaving their hometowns.

Entrepreneurs should be inspired by the government to establish their business enterprises in Sylhet, Rajshahi, Chittagong, Barisal, Rangpur and other divisional towns so that all workers do not huddle just in Dhaka to make their livelihood. Millions of people every year travel all the way to Dhaka leaving behind their roots in rural areas because there is very little employment prospects outside the capital.

But development just in one part of the country does not sound fine. Rather privileges like jobs, higher education and better healthcare should be spread out to all corners of the country. An all-inclusive approach to socio-economic advancement can drive Bangladesh forward.

At present there are uncountable numbers of English medium schools, private universities and shopping malls in Dhaka. These things keep on increasing traffic jams all the time. There should be a certain limit on the number of shopping complexes and business firms to be launched in Dhaka city. Allowing people to build up shops, schools and restaurants wherever they like generates a plight of anarchy.

In the same way there should be a particular limit for the number of private cars people can register for driving inside Dhaka city per year. The uncontrolled augmentation of private cars on all roads and streets across Dhaka city is a vivid barrier for proper traffic movement. The ongoing metro rail project may be very helpful for curtailing traffic jams when it is accomplished. A number of flyovers have been meanwhile built up in Dhaka to curb traffic jams.

A great deal of people in Dhaka city ride motorcycles to avoid traffic congestion. But riding motorbikes has some safety threats. At the same time some taxi services have been launched by private entrepreneurs to make people's travelling inside Dhaka easier. Nevertheless, all these measures seem to be failing one after another to combat traffic jams in Dhaka.

Not just perils in traffic administration, Dhaka is facing some other terrible drawbacks like air and water pollutions. Black fumes from brick fields located in the outskirts of Dhaka city pollute its air. Industrial wastes in most cases flow down to lakes and rivers causing deadly water defilements. Most of the canals and marshlands around Dhaka city have been captured by industrialists and land-grabbers. As a result rainwater cannot go down during heavy showers.

Most of the roads across Dhaka city are tattered with potholes. Roads get further shrunk down due to encroachment by hawkers, tea stalls, shops etc. On top of all these things, when rallies or processions are brought out, the hardship of vehicles all the more deteriorates. Pedestrians sometimes cross the roads by running instead of using over bridges which is often blamed for mishaps.

So, the inhabitants of Dhaka city need to change some of their habits too. The administrators of Dhaka should realize the perplexities its residents have been all the time dealing with. Traffic rules should be equally followed by everyone. There should be no special privilege for anybody putting thousands of other people into disadvantages.

The writer is a columnist for
The Asian Age

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