Sunday, 18 February, 2018, 10:36 AM
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Development sans control brings chaos

Published : Thursday, 15 February, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 83

I was shocked to see a picture in the social media the other day, posted by my colleague Nizam Ahmed, showing passengers huddled in an A/C coach of Bangladesh Railway Mahanagar Express train as if cattle are boarded in this compartment before the sacrificial Eid or the great feast of the Muslims once in every year.
Ah! It was a painful sight as the dozing, squeezing and probably many cursing themselves the passengers appeared to be desperately counting time when they would reach port city Chittagong from the capital Dhaka. This dreadful journey which the railway operators said they cannot manage to tackle amid a great rush of people charging onboard gave a stark reminder with handy evidence that not all "developments" are to be condoned as welfare oriented, rather some are giving people a taste of chaos even if they are onboard a cool and comfortable air conditioned train coach.
This is not just typical of trains, but also on highways and water transports - buses and ferries which ply around the country round the clock and keep travellers continuously punishing like the folks captured by Nizam Ahmed onboard the BR Dhaka-Chittagong Express.
Seeing the image in print we could just revisit the word "express" and felt that maybe it referred to "express" to suffocation, shuddering and loss of breathing or some such on the way. People usually take the night train, bus or ferry trying to get some sleep on the way before they land up in another hectic day of work usually in some lousy circumstances in the melee of big cities like Dhaka and Chittagong.
However, sleeping on the way, even if you have booked or hired expensive berths, often remains a mirage! Travelling with family and children are sometimes more painful with virtually no help or assistance coming from the transport operators. Their sole purpose is to take you onboard and then leave to the hands of no one but yourselves. This is a shame when the government and concerned authorities claim of providing for best modern travel facilities onboard including A/C compartments suitable for humans but not animals!
Bangladesh's communication sectors and the bosses who "manage" it say without any hesitation ever that they have almost brought the heavens to the people's reach as they set out to travel home or anywhere else. Even after waiting or queuing up for train/bus/ferry tickets for days, especially ahead of festivals many are deprived and forced to cancel planned trip(s). Some reschedule visit after the festivals by making use of the little breather. But that's not what they had planned for long.
We can ask like many other travellers why the authorities in concerned sectors are so shameless, talk so rubbish and never trying to match their words with the services provided. They do it perhaps because there is no accountability for their work. Their only responsibility is to smile at their bosses, show their teeth and make the people they serve cry or weep -- like the passengers in the A/C train compartment.
We do appreciate the government efforts to improve overall communications to push ahead development in each and every sector but unfortunately, many projects or initiatives die prematurely or become so inflated at the top that after some time they just collapse.
Especially for the railways, new compartments and engines have been added to the old trains, services have been started on new lines, and destinations have been diversified. All sounds too good, but in reality quality of services has not improved. Railway stations and junctions have become den of drug addicts and criminals and that all happen under the "watchful" eyes of railway police. We wish and hope things will change for the better in the overall transportation sector and so people will enjoy some relief and comfort in travelling.

Anis Ahmed is Executive Editor, The Daily Observer

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