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Dhaka Tribune

140C lost to Dhaka traffic each day

Traffic congestion worse than pre-pandemic levels

Update : 19 Apr 2022, 04:21 AM

Commuters on their way to work in Dhaka city have lost around Tk140 crore in working hours to traffic each day this year so far.

More than eight million working hours have been lost on Dhaka roads each day this year, which is significantly higher than the five million working hours lost each day in 2017.

The increasing amount of time spent in traffic is reducing the amount of time spent with family members and on other tasks, posing a hazard to mental health, according to a recent study by the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).

Most wage earners commute to offices or business between 7:30am and 10:30am, and travel back home between 4pm and 8:30pm. As a result, these are the windows when traffic congestion in the capital is at its worst. Around 60% of all vehicles in the capital hit the roads at these times.

The study said that every day 25 million trips are being made on shorter and longer distances and office goers account for 44% of the trips.

The Buet researchers said the drastic increase in traffic congestion was the result of a massive jump in the number of privately owned vehicles over the past years. Cars, jeeps, and motorcycles are all hitting the roads in greater numbers, and public transports appear to be aggravating the problem instead of helping ease it.

“In 2017, congestion ate up five million working hours of office goers daily and now it is 8.2 million because we are adding private vehicles and neglecting the public ones,” said Prof Md Hadiuzzaman, director of ARI.

He said that ARI calculated the numbers based on traffic flow on the main roads in the morning and afternoon rush hours.

Traffic worse than pre-pandemic levels

The researchers said traffic congestion has become worse than pre-pandemic levels following the reopening of schools and lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

“Before the pandemic, the same people commuted but the traffic situation was not as bad as this. Now vehicles move at a snail’s pace even on Fridays and Saturdays,” the ARI director said.

He said the main reason for the worsening traffic congestion was an increase in the number of private vehicles, while fewer new buses were being registered.

According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) data, registration of new buses declined 32.3% in 2021 as compared to 2020, while the sale of jeeps rose 55%, private car registration increased 28%, and motorcycles 27% over the same period.

“Private vehicles do not occupy space on roads as efficiently as buses. Ride sharing services encouraged people to buy more motorcycles, as people prefer motorcycles for quick movement,” Prof Hadiuzzaman said.

“If this tendency continues, Dhaka city will need four square kilometers to park all of the private vehicles in 2023,” he added.

More vehicles also mean more accidents

The Buet researchers found that the increasing traffic congestion coincided with an increasing number of accidents, especially at signal points and during peak rush hours.

“If we calculate the financial loss due to deaths, vehicle damage, and legal issues, it is equivalent to Tk1.55 crore per day,” Prof Hadiuzzaman said.

“Spending hours in tailbacks, commuters in Dhaka city suffer from a variety of mental health issues caused by the pressure of traffic congestion on the human mind. This has a financial aspect as well,” he added.

“Another loss is the lifespan of roads, which decreases by 18-30% when vehicles standstill on a road for hours. When engineers design roads they consider moving loads, which means vehicles will keep moving. As a result, roads are being damaged rapidly when roads are filled with hundreds of thousands of vehicles for hours,” he explained.

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