No amount of metro rails or bus projects will solve our traffic problems
With several megaprojects in the pipeline, Bangladesh is showing no shortage of ambition when it comes to modernizing the capital city, and eventually, easing the woes of the residents of Dhaka who deal with unsustainable traffic day after day.
What is baffling though, is our inability to put into place a proper, working traffic light system. Our traffic is still managed largely in an ad hoc manner by flesh-and-blood traffic police on the roads, and quite often, the amount of time spent stuck in an intersection defies comprehension.
If any kind of order is to be imposed upon our traffic system, being stuck in the stone ages will simply not do. We need modern and digitalized traffic lights, and not merely for show. Because the fact is, if we keep failing to get the ABCs right on the road, no amount of metro rails or bus projects will solve our traffic problems.
Also Read - 110C squandered on traffic lights since 2001
The problems run deep, and what is needed is more than a facelift that showcases progress to the rest of the world. Simply put, we need a traffic system that works. It is highly distressing to hear that as many as four government agencies and two international lenders have spent a total of Tk110 crore to upgrade Dhaka’s traffic light system in the past two decades, but the projects have failed. Poor planning, experts say, was to blame.
Planning is indeed the heart of the matter. Time and again, we have failed to train our traffic police about the importance of traffic lights -- that is, on the rare occasions that we tried them. Drivers and pedestrians too never learned to respect the rules, as the rules were never enforced long enough to stick in people’s minds.
After all, it is only through repeated practice and enforcement that in people’s minds, rules become norms. In most countries in this day and age, traffic lights are inviolable in the minds of law-abiding citizens. In Bangladesh, they are treated like something to be ignored. The fault here lies on the shoulders of the authorities.