Experts say they may be creating bottlenecks on roads, leading to long tailbacks
The initiatives taken by the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) to ease traffic congestion through the construction of U-loops is destined for failure as the system has proven to be ineffective in large cities, urban planners have said.
The DNCC has constructed as many as 10 U-loops on roads between Saat Rasta and Uttara, and all of them were in operation by early 2021. The U-loops at Tejgaon Saat Rasta and Uttara House Building areas were constructed at a cost of around Tk32 crore.
The true test for the U-loops began after the government eased Covid-19 curbs in early August, paving the way for traffic to return to Dhaka’s roads. Commuters soon found that the effect of the new loops was negligible.
Some even said they appeared to be increasing traffic congestion.
“I have been living in Dhaka for almost 20 years, and I have never seen such chaos on roads. The U-loops are responsible for this,” said Aminul Islam, who regularly uses the U-loop near Banani Army Stadium to commute to his office.
Commuters who use the U-loops at Banani overpass, Banani Chairman Bari, Amtoli in Mohakhali, Mohakhali bus terminal, and Nabisco intersection in Tejgaon also said they did not seem to be having any effect.
However, U-loop Project Director and DNCC Additional Superintendent Engineer Khandakar Mahbub Alam claimed that only two of the U-loops were not working properly — the ones at Nabisco intersection and Banani Chairman Bari.
He blamed the Roads and Highways Department for providing insufficient land for the construction of the U-loops.
“We did not claim that the U-loop project alone would reduce traffic congestion,” the project director added in response to a question.
He refused to admit that the plan would never have worked.
On condition of anonymity, a DNCC official claimed that the U-loops were easing traffic congestion by 35% and saving Tk30 lakh every day, which is higher than expected. However, he could not provide evidence for the figures.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) Civil Engineering Department’s Prof Md Shamsul Hoque said that experts argued against the U-loop plan when it was first floated by Engineer Kamrul Hasan during the mayoral tenure of the late Annisul Huq.
“This U-loop technology was applied in some cities in the world with less traffic in the 1960s and 1970s. It was effective in easing traffic in less crowded cities. Later, it was proven that the idea was not effective for a crowded city,” added the professor, describing the project as a waste of time and money.
“The loops are making bottlenecks, which is increasing traffic jams instead of reducing them. They also do not allow pedestrians to cross the roads,” he further said.
The 10 U-loops were built at Uttara Rajlokkhi, Uttara RAB-1 office, Flying Club at Kawla, Banani overpass, Banani Army Stadium, Banani Chairman Bari, Amtoli in Mohakhali, Mohakhali bus terminal, Nabisco intersection at Tejgaon, and BG Press at Saat Rasta.