Traffic congestion in the capital Dhaka is becoming nastier every day, with commuters sweating in sweltering summer heat while traffic controllers miserably fail to control endless snarls of vehicles plying across the densely populated city.
As a result, a total traffic chaos has become a routine in this city of 15 million people. Worst sufferers are the students, guardians, office goers and people seeking emergency treatment in hospitals. Hours lapsed on the roads often making life for the city dwellers unbearable, though the traffic managers and the newly-elected City Mayors appear not much concerned with the growing menace.
Police in Dhaka have restricted traffic on several streets without prior notice to ensure secure movement for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
But commuters in the Bangladesh capital have suffered as snarls piled up in places and vehicles failed to move smoothly. Modi reached Dhaka at 10:08am on Saturday and went to the National Memorial at Savar to pay respects to the Liberation War martyrs.
He then went to Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi to pay homage to Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His motorcade left the museum around 12:30pm for Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel.
The Gabtoli-Dhanmondi-Karwan Bazar road and other streets criss-crossing it suffered huge traffic snarls during the movement of the Indian Prime Minister's convoy. Traffic was stopped in these roads, without prior notice, hours before the actual VIP movement.
Passengers were seen sweating in vehicles on the Manik Mia Avenue, and the roads extending from Agargaon to Khamarbarhi and Mohakhali to Shahbagh. The traffic congestion spread to the streets leading to these main roads.
The street from Bangla Motor to Malibagh also suffered a huge gridlock. It got better when Modi entered the hotel around 1:00pm.
However, the city gurus and corporation officials say it would take a few more months for the Mayors to take firm grip on things but only time will say if they really have a control over bad services and other nuisances plaguing the nation's capital.
Now it is rainy season and city roads become flooded even after a short spell of rainfall. The city thoroughfares become nastier as heaps of stinking garbage mix with swirling rain water accumulate on the roads.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Annisul Huq has said, "We've identified four basic needs at the moment -- traffic, waste management, road lights and footpaths. The relevant agencies have been accordingly instructed."
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Syed Khokon In his recent election manifesto promised to prioritise five issues including solution of Dhaka's infamous traffic gridlock.
The city dwellers hoped to get rid of traffic jams soon but they have been utterly frustrated.
Why utility services cannot take up digging etc well ahead of the monsoon has been a mystery for years, but with no convincing answers. People get frightened to come out of homes under these circumstances but no remedy is in sight.
It is often alleged that roads remain blocked in presence of police who are always neglectful to their duty - disciplining traffic --although they often turn on exasperated commuters. Traffic management in the city has totally collapsed, said a retired government official sweating at Dhanmondi roadside holding the hand of his school-going grandchild on Saturday.
It had been observed that most of the policemen deputed for controlling and channeling the traffic were busy on mobile phones, eating and smoking instead of discharging their duties.
There are many so-called "one way" in this city but it is very unfortunate that police always fail to implement one-way traffic system and often themselves violate it. As result, people face more hardships on their way to work or back home.
To make sure the smooth flow of traffic, traffic wardens had been deputed on various roads but no improvement is visible so far and under the prevailing situation traffic wardens and traffic police should be deputed at all road crossings and junctions.
Other than the influx of huge number of new cars that are hitting the road everyday, there is huge increase in the number of rickshaws, many of which allegedly unlicenced, have added to the traffic jam and congestion.
According to some sources of the both City Corporations, there are about one lakh licenced rickshaws in the city but unofficially perhaps nearly half a million rickshaws are plying on the Dhaka roads. In the absence of any separate lanes for rickshaws on most of the roads, they occupy the whole road space and interfere with the movement of the mechanised vehicles. Due to traffic congestion created by these rickshaws on the same road lane, the fast moving transports can hardly make 15 to 20 km per hour.
Under the growing load of traffic, roads are getting cratered and potholed. Roads with innumerable potholes, a cloud of dust, accumulated water in the ditches and smoke blowing over the commuter's face as vehicles pass by are features symbolic of the squalid state of the city in summer. With the onset of rainy season most of these roads are either canals or mini reservoirs of water.
The major causes of congestion, road jam and accident can be attributed to lack of proper land use in the city. Transportation plan in big cities are done through appraisal of travel demand management that aims at reducing trips in congested parts of the city. Undeniably true, Dhaka has grown manifold over the years but its business activities like growth of shopping malls, location of residential apartments, mushroom growth of schools, colleges, private universities and clinics on both sides of the road has aggravated the problem to a large extent.