Jack Of All Trades
Dhaka, Ctg lack standard traffic, transportation systems
Published : Wednesday, 8 December, 2021 at 12:00 AM Count : 725
Relevant authorities in Bangladesh have failed to develop standard traffic and transportation systems particularly in the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chattogram, over the last 50 years when the country however, has attained a lot of economic and infrastructural developments largely in the past 12 years. Due to the poor traffic system, Dhaka and Chattogram have become the slowest of the cities with traffic moving in snail's pace and the people are either deprived of quicker transport facilities or are compelled to spend much more for commuting from spot to spot.
The poor transportation system with inadequate number of public transports and trained operators engaged by the greedy vehicle owners, often becomes the main cause of public suffering, often sparking protests, chaos and anarchy. The relevant authorities including the traffic police along with the transport owners, drivers and their assistants have drastically failed in bringing discipline in the public transport sector. Racing of public transport, mainly buses on the streets, illegal parking, creating obstacles for the movement of other transports, embarking and disembarking passengers on the middle of the streets and taking of illegal u-turns are frequently cause regular accidents.
Private vehicles, owned by affluent, enlightened or educated segment of the societies including politicians and the business people, also become causes of public nuisance as the vehicles operators never bother to respect the traffic laws. The traffic police also do not bother or dare to ask the owners or operators of the private vehicles to abide by the law. For example, vehicles mostly owned or used by government officials at the Secretariat or the visitors to the relevant Ministries remain haphazardly parked on the Secretariat Link Road that lies between the National Press Club and the western edge of the Secretariat on regular basis. The road remains so clogged that it often becomes impossible for pedestrian to negotiate.
When it comes about the CNG-run three-wheelers (CNG), there is no rule on fares. There is a meter in every CNG, but it is never used and passenger bargain out the fare which is generally exorbitant. Moreover in Dhaka, CNG pose a great threat to the passengers, as the passengers' cabin can be locked or unlocked only by the driver. In no circumstances, even in emergency, passengers won't be able to come out of the CNG without the help of the driver, because the bolt for opening of closing the door of the passengers' cabin is generally controlled by the operator.
In case of any accident the CNG passenger will not be able escape himself as he won't be able to open the door himherself. Dhaka traffic police are so indifferent that they never thought about the CNG passengers' plight in emergencies. However, it is different in Chattogram, where CNG riders are much safe as they can open and close their cabin door by themselves, without taking the help of the driver.
CNG drivers in both the cities do not use meters approved by the authorities and they compel riders to pay much exorbitant fares. None, including the traffic police ever check out this excesses by CNG operators.
There are also few ride sharing companies in Dhaka and Chattogram, but in peak hours their relevant apps bid for higher fares and in inclement weather these are not available. However, the transportations by these ridesharing companies are hassle free. These ridesharing came in Bangladesh, through private sector, first introduced by US-based ridesharing company Uber, followed by some Dhaka-based companies. However, the relevant companies are struggling to tame the local vehicle owners or their operators, who often breach the terms and conditions with the ride-sharing companies, who are generally intermediaries between the private vehicles and the passengers. The ridesharing motorbikes have emerged as the new disturbing elements along with the private motorbikes, who flout most traffic laws driving on their whims. They drive through footpath dashing and hitting the pedestrians when streets remained jammed.
When it comes about rickshaws, most widely used manual transports, is the principal cause of traffic jams in cities as tens and thousands of suck slow moving manual vehicles clog the busy streets. Authorities upbeat with economic development never dare to reduce the number of such vehicles fearing backlash from the rickshaw owners and operators, often patronized by the touts of the political parties.
Dhaka and Chattogram now have bigger and spacious streets to manage the growing traffic, but the relevant authorities lack the will to have modern management. A wider portion of the street remained occupied by private or government construction materials, motor technicians, vendors, hawkers, food and beverage kiosks owners and many other petty vested groups, creating a big public mess. But there seems none to look after these chaotic situations on the streets.
Pedestrians are also blamed for traffic chaos as they move irresponsibly on the streets. They tend to cross the street even in front of fast moving vehicles. Some of them just raise a hand and start to cross the streets without judging the speed of the incoming automobiles. Most pedestrians do not use over or under passes and cross the roads with jaywalking. Some of them handle mobile phones or browse internet on cell phones while walking on or crossing the roads. Many of those reckless and careless pedestrians have been killed in road and railway mishaps since the advent of smartphones. Despite repeated deadly accidents involving some reckless smartphone uses, no step has been taken to stop recurrence of such accidents.
People in Bangladesh, especially the residents in Dhaka and Chattogram have been severely suffering since early last month after the sudden hike in prices of diesel and kerosene by the relevant authorities. The hike sparked commotions in the transport sector after the transport owners went on a countrywide strike demanding a rise in passenger fares, to compensate the 23 per cent rise in fuel price that re-fixed a litre of diesel and kerosene at Tk 80 against earlier price of Tk 65 per litre.
Amid the countrywide transport strike the relevant authorities bowed down to the transport workers and permitted them to hike fares by 27 per cent on average. The quick approval to the proposal for fare hike suggested that the whole drama was either pre-planned or the authorities succumbed to the pressure of the transport owners ignoring the interests of the passengers.
Subsequently two separate road accidents that killed two students, sparked a wave of violence in Dhaka and student protests across the country further aggravating the situation. Meanwhile the students demanded reinstating half-fare for them, but the transport owners initially rejected students demand and said it won't be possible to accept the demand for half-fare.
The denial triggered further protests and public transports either were withdrawn from the Dhaka streets by the owners or were prevented by the students from plying. This disruption in movement of the public transport created suffering for the office goers, who had to walk to their work places, or had to pay hugely to utilize other mode of transports at higher fares. It was full of public chaos and anarchy suggesting as if there was no administration in the country for several days. However, the transport owners lately agreed to accept half fare from students in Dhaka and Chattogram cities.
The situation is yet to be settled as most demands of the protesting students were yet to be met. It is hoped that this time the authorities will evolve a system which will protect the interest of the stakeholders and extend facilities to the commuters whenever situation arises to readjust the imported fuel prices.
The writer is business editor,
The Daily Observer