With commissioning of the Maghbazar Flyover partially late last month, traffic jams in Dhaka have eased, though not up to expectations of the city dwellers.
However, they expect a considerable improvement in traffic movement when phase II and III of this flyover are constructed by December.
On completion of construction of the phase I, from Satrasta intersection to Maghbazar, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally opened the much-awaited flyover for traffic movement on March 30, to the great relief of the city people who had been experiencing untold sufferings for years together due to unbearable traffic congestions in this busiest road of the capital.
Project Director Nazmul Alam said, "Construction of the flyover from Eskaton to Mouchak and Malibagh Abul Hotel to Shantinagar is progressing well and I hope the remaining two phases would be built within the stipulated time."
Rafiq Hassan, a small trader, who lives in Maghbazar area, expressed his happy reaction to the commissioning of the Satrasta-Maghbazar part.
He said this flyover has changed the entire daily scenario of the adjacent roads as vehicles are not seen stranded for hours with passengers and cargoes.
"It is encouraging that the present government since assuming power has taken massive steps to ease traffic jam by constructing flyover, underpass, foot over-bridge etc.", Hassan said, adding that city residents would start getting full benefits when such projects could be fully implemented.
As new cars are coming to the streets day by day, the government should impose taxes on their movements, especially on flyovers, Hassan suggested, pointing out that such taxes would help government fetch additional money by which it could take more projects to remove traffic jams.
Abul Kalam, a taxi driver who just crossed over the flyover, told this correspondent that hitherto he had to wait over 2-3 hours to traverse only two kilometers from Maghbazar to Satrastha. "Today I took only five minutes to cross this distance" said Kalam who obtained driving license ten years back. He thanked the Prime Minister saying that all credit goes to her who initiated the project to remove perennial traffic congestions on this route.
Badsha, who lives in Banglamotor but works in Maghbazar area, said, "We feel very comfortable to ply this newly opened flyover, which is now more than two kilometers long. Things would further be improved when the rest two phases of the flyover are opened to traffic. It is a great achievement for the present government."
Renowned economist Anu Mohammad said, "More than one crore people now live in the capital. Out of that 50 lakh people go for work every day. Because of traffic jams every day, they have to waste one hour.
As a result, 127 crore 75 lakh work hours are lost every year. If the value of an hour is taken to be Tk 100, Tk 12,775 crore is wasted every year.
If fuel, education, health care and factory production are taken into account wastage will increase manifold. Besides, many examinees fail to appear in examinations. Many patients die without being able to go to hospital, the financial value of which is hard to ascertain."
The economist also said, "The amount of fuel and time wasted in traffic jams is casting a negative impact on the overall economy of the country. For not giving importance to it, the amount of loss is increasing day by day. This is not only wasting money but also wasting time, production and people's endeavour."
Former BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedy said, "Production in mills and factories decrease because of traffic jams. Workers cannot come to office on time. But it has not been possible to see how much is lost because of traffic jams. But it is true that there are huge losses. The government has taken initiative to remove traffic jams. More initiatives will have to be taken. A country cannot go ahead with uncontrolled traffic jams."
It was estimated initially that the project cost of this flyover would be Tk3.44 billion when the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the flyover for the first time in 2011. The cost increased to Tk7.73billion and then skyrocketed to Tk12.19 billion which is more than three times the ECNEC- approved figure in 2011. Although the flyover was expected to be completed by July 2014, it is now planned to be ready by December this year.
The other flyovers constructed are: Kuril-Banani and Gulistan-Jatrabari flyovers.