Published:  12:39 AM, 04 November 2019

Traffic control: Go digital

Dhaka has traffic lights installed on almost every intersection of its roads. But vehicles do not rely on these lights but on hands of traffic police members. Even drivers, or anyone else, may not have noticed when these lights are turning red, yellow or green. If they had, it would be impossible to think of vehicles moving when red light is on.

The lights were set up as an automated traffic signal system. But no automated traffic control system has been introduced thus far. Vehicles in this metropolis stop at hand gestures or the sound of whistles by members of the traffic police. Besides, a large number of drivers are so impatient and reckless that they do not want to stop their vehicles at the signals of the traffic police. As a result, chaos is seen on roads every so often, increasing risks of accidents at the intersections.

By the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, the traffic control system of many cities around the world has been fully automated with the advancement of technology. And so, the risk of accident has also reduced. But the standard of traffic control in our capital? It seems we are living in the prehistoric age of traffic management! It is not that we do not have the finances to buy the technology, nor that we have none to help us in this regard.

Under the Dhaka Urban Transport Project, the World Bank financed the installation of automatic traffic lights at 70 intersections in Dhaka and the work completed towards the end of 2008. But our traffic police members still rely on their hands and whistles. In November 2009, automated traffic control system was installed for experiment at 50 intersections. But after three or four days, their use was stopped. Most of the automated signals are now disabled as they are  unused and ignored for maintenance.

The Dhaka city corporation has set up automated traffic management in the capital whereas the traffic department of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) performs traffic control activities. There is no coordination between the two authorities. It was decided that the city corporation would hand over the traffic lights to the DMP.

But the DMP said they could not take the control of these lights because of lack of engineers in their traffic department. This problem should be resolved immediately. None other than the DMP's traffic department will have to handle the signal control. Hand signals and whistles should be replaced with the automatic signalling system.

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