A short-gestation plan for a mobile and vibrant city

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 13 Jun 2017, 19:30:53

A short-gestation plan for a mobile and vibrant city

A consensus needs to be arrived at to phase out rickshaws within a specific time-frame and as part of a composite strategy, writes Marksman
The   man-hours that   city commuters waste on a daily basis, let alone the pollution and   stress they suffer in clogged streets are costing the economy and public health dear. That is one set of critical effects of choked traffic, which like the climate change, does not distinguish between the rich and the poor! Add to this, a dampening effect on prospective investors. They may be put off by the time taken to go places, as something of a marker of slow decision-making along the corridors of power.

Our one-stop service, low labour cost and   the package of incentives that we offer will have to match with the cost and ease of doing  business to maximise the enticement factor vis-à-vis the other investment-seekers. In fiscal 2016, we failed to notch up foreign direct invest (FDI) anywhere near the levels of some South Asian countries. We accounted for reinvestment of profits from some already operating companies.  

Another concern is being flagged off, presumably with a potential bearing on investment. According to a national news agency report, urban experts, policy planners and think-tank professionals have emphasised the need for a 'modern and motorised transport system. An urgency is being felt to   keep pace with the country's economic progress towards the goal of a middle-income country by 2021.

They argued , 'the  average speed of motorised vehicles on the city streets is  about 20km per hour but those are forced  to  move  within the speed of 7-8 km an hour  because of  the movement of the uncontrolled rickshaws on important thoroughfares.'

Statistics provided by the Metropolitan police authorities were quoted as saying that as against only 87,000 authorised rickshaws, 12-13 lakh operate in the capital city. Although they have been ordered out of major arterial roads, an alleged lack of law enforcement has led to their plying rather extensively.

By default or on whatever ground, the rickshaws have proliferated to an untenable extent. 

It has been calculated that 40 per cent of the total number of trips of the city commuters are being made on the manual three wheelers. These are a source of employment of not just 12-13 lakh pedal-pushers but a bigger ancillary number of dependents and those that run make-shift workshops to service the contraption.

Thus a consensus needs to be arrived at to phase out rickshaws within a specific time-frame and as part of a composite strategy. First, let's settle  the time-frame through a consultative process involving all the stakeholders.

 The end point of the  timeline may be June, 2024 i.e. six plus years which are the current  deadline whereby the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development or Metro Rail project is scheduled to be completed.

To that end determined efforts will have to be made, using the long lead time to arrange for alternative employment/rehabilitation  of the rickshaw pullers, put an effective lid on private vehicles currently  adding on  to the  street 200 per day, wider introduction of   APP-Based Transport Service like  Uber and above all, a disciplined fleet of uniformly standardized buses run by private sector companies.

Simultaneously, suburban railways and a network of waterways girdling the city and touching on its rims would be important complements of a multi-modal transport system.

Ideally, like in other megalopolises, the capital city  would be the workplace while the suburbs are provided with amenities for living. We have to trigger reverse  migration to  strings of  growth epicentres all over the country that have to be provided for meaningful and sustainable development.          
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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