Traffic gridlocks have been a crippling issue in the capital city of Dhaka for as long as the memory serves, and private cars are one of the major reasons for this problem.
Around 6-8% of commuters use private cars to get to their destinations across the city every day, while the rest use public transportations such as buses and minibuses. A significant number of people also use rickshaws and motorbikes, and some commute by walking.
This data was collected from a number of urban specialists, public transport experts and different organisations.
According to a research article published by US-based organisation Democracy International (DI) on September 22, the 6% people who use private cars to commute occupy 76% of the streets and roads in Dhaka.
“Private cars take over 60-65% of roads in the capital, while public transports use 7%. The rest of the road space is occupied by other vehicles, illegal structures and unauthorized vehicle parking,” Sarwar Jahan, a professor of urban and regional planning department at BUET, told the Bangla Tribune.
Kazi Md Saifun Newaz, an assistant professor at BUET's Accident Research Institute, echoed the same view.
“Private cars have taken up more than 50% of available road space in Dhaka. A car can accommodate two people in a 10-square-feet space, while a public transport can accommodate 15 people on the same space,” he said.
The government on several occasions had spoken of taking initiatives to control the number of private cars in Dhaka, but directives on how to implement such initiatives have yet to be issued.
On the other hand, urban specialists and public transport experts have suggested a number of steps to help resolve the issue.
The experts have recommended a twofold solution, and the first phase is to further strengthen the public transport system in the capital.
As part of this phase, the government should increase the number of public transports, ban traffic of private vehicles on designated roads and build separate lanes for public transports.
Along with the implementation of metro rail and subway projects, special women-only public transport services should also be launched.
As part of the second phase, the experts recommended that tax on private car imports should be increased. The government should also increase parking charges, prices of fuel for use in private cars, and ban new installations of CNG conversion kits in private cars.
They also suggested that a limit be imposed on the maximum number of cars a family can own at a time.
The experts added that a well managed, maintained and good quality public transport system will discourage people to use private cars.
Speaking on the issue, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) Director of Administration Moshiar Rahman said: “The cabinet has approved the law for controlling the number of private cars. It has been sent to the Law Ministry for further evaluation.”
“We will take further long term steps regarding the issue as soon as the law comes into effect,” he added.
A World Bank study published on July 26 revealed that the people of Dhaka is losing around 3.2 million work hours every day due to traffic jam, and the loss amounts to Tk30,000 crore.
Dhaka currently has a population of 18 million people, and according to the WB report, the population could increase to 35 million by 2035.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune