|Published : 29 Nov 2016, 20:58:49|
City without efficient bus service
One does need to visit Dhaka streets, if one is interested to witness chaos of the highest order under the sun. It is a free-for-all situation with public bus contributing to a great extent to the chaos. Brand new as well dilapidated buses compete for cluttering city roads. But old and new varieties of them have one thing in common --they give a damn to passengers' comfort and traffic rules. Its pitiable traffic situation does figure prominently when international organisations and news magazines rate Dhaka along with other major world cities, in terms of livability. Thus, adjudging it as one of the worst livable cities on earth has become more or less a routine affair, of late.
Apparently, with a view to ridding the residents of Dhaka of an anarchic traffic situation, to some extent, the mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) in March this year unveiled a plan to reduce the number of bus companies to only five for running buses in five different routes of Dhaka city. The move was welcomed by many including transport experts, notwithstanding the questions remaining over whether the DNCC has the legal authority to initiate it, or not. The DNCC mayor had also announced that 3,000 age-old and worn-out buses would be replaced with new ones under his proposed scheme.
So far, no tangible progress has been made on the issue. Rather, in some cases, the opposite has happened. A study conducted in 2013 by the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) recommended reduction of bus routes in Dhaka in phases to 71 by 2020 from the then 152. But permission was granted by another official body, styled, the Regional Transport Committee (RTC) to open many more new routes. In fact, the situation prevailing in the transport sector is very complicated and one has reasons to suspect whether the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has any control over it. Overt or covert political influence, flow of unaccounted-for money in large volumes and highhandedness of the transport owners and workers have made the situation quite unmanageable.
Under the circumstances, it is none but everyday commuters who suffer most. They are not only made to pay bus fares at unreasonably high rates but also subjected to other hassles throughout their journeys to different destinations. Men at the steering wheel do very often put the lives of passengers - and pedestrians as well - in jeopardy through their reckless driving. Undeniably, the use of passenger buses for commuting in Dhaka city remains an uncomfortable affair, in most cases. Even the state-owned Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has failed miserably to offer anything better. Most of its buses have been leased out, with their operators also behaving like their counterparts in the private sector. But Dhaka, the capital with a population of more than 15 million, must not continue with such a terrible traffic situation and highly inefficient public transport system. Getting rid of those is, understandably, not easy. Yet, it must be noted that nothing is impossible provided there is the will to make that happen. That would primarily require strict compliance with laws and rules by all concerned.