Traffic gridlock ahead of Ramadan

Dhaka,  Wed,  28 June 2017
Published : 17 May 2017, 19:39:22
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OPINION

Traffic gridlock ahead of Ramadan

Shahiduzzaman Khan
While the holy month of Ramadan is knocking at the door, most vital points and intersections are witnessing acute traffic congestion. 

Many roads are still un-repaired that hinders normal traffic movement. The situation has further worsened due to  the current spell of rain. 

Ahead of the advent of Ramadan, vendors have begun to occupy footpaths and some parts of lanes, by-lanes and wider roads. Allegations have it that these vendors are encroaching upon most of the vacant places in connivance with a section of law-enforcing agencies and officials of both city corporations. 

The capital is witnessing congestion from morning on almost every working day in most parts of the city, causing untold sufferings to hundreds of commuters. It usually takes about two hours to travel a distance of only six kilometres during peak hours. 

Indeed, an overwhelming number of recklessly-driven public transports contribute to the intense traffic jams and the lack of road safety. Successive governments had taken up a number of short-term plans like construction of overpasses and underpasses for vehicles, connecting roads, bypasses, and east-west roads, but only a few such initiatives was implemented so far. As such, traffic congestion in the city is increasing beyond manageable proportions, providing no visible solution in the near future. People are getting stuck in intolerable gridlock ahead of Ramadan. They are being forced to wait inside vehicles for hours on their way to and from workplaces. 

The present government has taken up several projects but it will take time to implement those. The authorities have taken up some short-term projects like construction of flyovers and underground trains for vehicles and linking roads, bypasses, and roads. Some flyovers have already been built. Others need some time to be completed. Construction of underground trains, as it appears, will need a pretty long time.

Following the recommendations of Dhaka Transport Plan (DTP), the government undertakes a project construct three expressway routes in the city: from Old Airport to Jatrabari via Tejgaon, Moghbazar and Malibagh, another from Sonargaon Hotel to Gulistan via Kataban and New Market and the other from New Airport to Kuril as part of the project. 

The government has another plan to set up an underground rail track from Joydevpur to Kamalapur. Construction of Jatrabari-Gulistan flyover is progressing well, but its work is creating endless traffic gridlock from Gulistan to Kanchpur. 

Construction works on the major highways heading towards southern and northern districts and repairs of ruptures caused by rain on other routes pose the risk of severe traffic snarl-up during Ramadan. Currently, conditions of the roads on different routes are ramshackle. During extra pressure of homebound passengers on Eid vacation, it would be worse. Apart from problems caused by construction of the major highways, it is difficult to carry on rolling, carpeting and other works for repairing and maintenance in the rains.

Overall progress in the construction of the Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane-highway works is not satisfactory. In many places, there are potholes and due to rain that made the roads vulnerable for traffic. During the ensuing Ramadan, there might be accidents and congestions as the highway is muddy and slippery at many places.

A study conducted by the Board of Investment (BoI) says traffic snarl costs the country $12.56 billion a year, equivalent to about 7.0 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). If only Dhaka city can be freed from the problem, the country's per capita income would go up by $78 to $1,392 from the current figure of $1,314. It said the country's economic growth rate will move up to 13 per cent a year from the average 6.0 per cent without congestion. 

There is no denying the fact that traffic gridlock causes not only economic loss but also environmental damage and road accidents. Lack of transport infrastructure, poor traffic management, illegal car parking, too little footpath and pedestrians' facility and absence of separate lane are to be blamed for the city's nagging traffic jam. The mixed traffic flow of motorised and non-motorised vehicles on the road also adds to the nagging problem. 

There is an urgent need for strict enforcement of traffic rules to bring discipline in traffic management system. Rules are blatantly violated, automated signals at many points do not work and the traffic police use manual signals. 

As for the ensuing Ramadan, unless repair and maintenance works are done on the traffic-vulnerable roads, there could be severe congestion and sufferings to the people will substantially increase. 

szkhanfe@gmail.com

 
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