Elevated walkway for pedestrians

Dhaka,  Tue,  06 December 2016
Published : 24 Nov 2016, 20:49:28

Elevated walkway for pedestrians

The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has planned to construct an elevated walkway in the capital. Although this overhead footpath is in operation in many Asian cities like Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur, it will be new to Dhaka. Citing the reasons for implementing the Tk 1.13-billion project, the corporation says the walkway will ease the movement of pedestrians in the greater Gulistan area. As they view it, even after successful eviction of hawkers from the area's footpaths, the need for comfortable walkways will remain there. Meanwhile, road transport experts have crossed swords with Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), which is behind planning the project.

 The experts reject the latter's logic that the elevated walkway will greatly serve the city commuters, especially the passengers of the much-awaited metro rail. By connecting the metro commuters travelling to, and from, the Gulistan area with the rail's Press Club station, the walkway will, theoretically, relieve them of many inconveniences. But as the walkway is set to be built along the existing footpaths and median from Bangabandhu Avenue to the Secretariat through the Zero Point, and will also include the Golap Shah Mazar area, large tracts of the city heart may get blocked to future installations. Due to encroachment on footpath space for implementing the walkway project, future construction works related to bus rapid transit and mass rapid transit networks are feared to be hampered. Experts have especially focused on this adverse impact of the DSCC project on traffic and pedestrian movement in the project area.

It is implied that the construction of the proposed elevated walkway will squeeze the width of the present footpaths, thus jeopardising smooth pedestrian movement. In the context of Dhaka, the spectre that looms is of hawkers and vendors overrunning the walkway meant for comfortable and faster movement of metro rail passengers. Given the upbeat mood of the DSCC and the DTCA, there are reasons to believe that a thorough brainwork has been done for implementing the sensitive project. An overview of the pros and cons related to the elevated walkway warrants to be at the top of all the imperatives being worked out for the project. Or else the whole endeavour might turn out to be a mega exercise in futility at the cost of the taxpayers' money. There are justifications behind bracing for bungling. The case of faulty designs detected long after construction large portion of the 8.7-kilometre (km) and Tk 12-billion Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover was completed is proof of imaginable negligence and insouciance on the part of apparently responsible quarters. The DSCC's walkway project must not suffer from any such negligence. 

The planned 1.1km elevated walkway brings along a pertinent issue: the Dhaka residents' deep-seated aversion for using the facilities installed for safe road crossing. With the DSCC set to embark on implementing the walkway, the increasingly defiant jaywalkers are yet to be made accustomed to using the foot over-bridges. If the habit continues with the walkways, they too are destined to be ideal trading spots for hawkers evicted from the ground. Few want to see DSCC people herding pedestrians on to the walkways or greeting them with tuberoses.
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