Traffic Jam Endless Miseries of Dhaka City Dwellers -Sohrab Hussain
The day of doom- when body sweats in the bus and sweat stinks in the shirt which the passengers face daily in traffic jam. The presence of a single worn-out bus in the sea of microbus in the street of Dhaka city kills the valuable time and gives miserable sufferings to millions of people in Dhaka city everyday. Students present in their classes late, employees risk their fate, vehicle’s owner hit their head, and patients see their death waiting in the street. The time which we spend in the road for traffic jams amounts several years and nothing is more dangerous than this problem to remain a nation underdeveloped. Once which was no issue, now is a core issue and need immediate remedy from this problem. The recent chronicles chronologically hook up the causes behind this traffic jam. First and foremost problem is private cars which are mostly occupied by high officials and elite classes. Statistics says that private automobiles occupy nearly 70 percent of Dhaka’s streets serving only 20 percent of the commuters, whereas mass transit and non-motorised vehicles take up 30 percent, mobilizing 80 percent of the people. Another statistics in 2010 shows that 3 out of 1000 people use personal vehicles; for instance, car, automobiles, which block 70% of total space of the road !!! How much it is responsible for traffic jams in the city!!! Secondly, the visit of any foreign president to Bangladesh for which the whole Dhaka city is blocked for hours and hours and we have just seen it while Chinese president President Xi Jinping has visited Dhaka for two days. I stayed about two hours at the same place even not moving forward for a single step. Similarly, defective traffic system and rise of vehicles mainly beget this national problem. Halting the vehicles for four times in every intersection makes it more acute. When road transport authority fouls certifying unfit vehicles as fit and inexperienced drivers as experienced by illegal means, it impliedly increases traffic jams. Another is the lower taxation on import of reconditioned vehicles which lures to import more vehicles cheaply. The availability of installments from bank to buy the car, growing economic capability of middle class, high cost of three-wheel vehicles, mushrooming of private banks and companies providing car facility to their high profile officers and one car per family member in upper class are also responsible for traffic jam. We experience the peculiar system of blocking the whole Dhaka city to free the road from jams for government officers despising the needs of the people. Not worthy to mention about the dispossession or illegal occupation of footpath by hackers which congests and jams the road and drive of motor cycle on footpath to avoid the jam which horns just back of the pedestrians and makes them puzzled. For flyover facility in the city does not function properly, the areas out of this facility face extensive traffic jams as vehicles come to these areas over flyover wasting even not a single minute. Moreover, about 1700 people come to Dhaka for seeking the jobs or works everyday. This large number of population are being merged with current population and contributing to the increase of traffic jams. Nevertheless, rickshaws, van carrying goods and tools and other slower vehicles are also a major part of this system. Every year, this problem kills billions of capital which could mobilize the wheel of our national economy. Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) claims that traffic congestion in Dhaka eats up Tk 19,555 crore a year. The estimated loss is more than half of the country’s total annual development outlay and one fourth of the revenue collection target for fiscal year. This is one aspect which we always prefer to think about. But there is another aspect that has also been reflected by traffic jams. Do not need to go far to find the way how we see the economic difference between upper and lower classes in the context of Bangladesh. When hundreds of passengers gather in a single bus to attend their office in time, the beloved school or college-going-upper-class students shake their legs inside the cars; even sometimes, there is no single person in the car except driver himself. In most cases, every member of the family has a car with personal driver for personal use. How much money they have to spend only for transport facility!!! But what about those muddle class people who spend their time and energy in the bus to attend the office in time? Centralization of economy to some people results such gross discrimination against muddle and lower class people and it affects the traffic creating jams in the road. The way out of two problems is to minimize economic difference between upper and lower classes making proper and equitable economic policy, seal off unfit vehicles, reduce reconditioned vehicles, make available public buses, out all drivers who evade the traffic rules, cut off the root of mushrooming of unnecessary car house in all corners of the city, impose traffic rules strictly, dispel obsolete traffic rules, suspend disqualified, dishonest and corrupted personnel. Strict restrictions should be imposed on purchasing cars, particularly purchasing unlimited number of cars for family members or employees of a company should be banned to reduce traffic jams. Decentralization of government and nongovernment institutions from Dhaka city is a must to move the people’s flow towards the other cities to save the Dhaka city and its dwellers. Closing all intersections of Dhaka city, only one step of opening four extra bypass in all four sides to pass the vehicles circling the intersection is the best way of minimizing the traffic jams up to almost 80%, a tolerable condition. We need perfect plan for fifty or hundred years for road transportation to prevent future traffic jams and ensure sustainable development for future generations. These could be the ways of providing a peaceful dwelling life to its dwellers. Time has come to eye the whole mechanism working for traffic jam to step properly against this byproduct of mismanagement of the government.
The writer is a student of LL. M. at the University of Dhaka