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How can we fix the world’s worst traffic?

  • Published at 10:57 pm May 23rd, 2019
Photo: SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN
Photo: SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

Dhaka loses 3.8 million work hours daily due to traffic 

In childhood, we used to read the Bengali rhyme, “Shohor shohor Dhaka shohor, ajob shohor Dhaka.” It really is a strange city. We lose our valuable time on the roads due to traffic, but with no solutions. The traffic of the city is so terrible that every citizen is affected and disturbed by it. The lack of proper management is the reason behind this problem.

The example of mismanagement is everywhere. According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), there are 3,885,422 registered vehicles in the country as of February, 2019. For driving these vehicles, there are about 2.8 million driving licenses. These also include licenses to drive motorcycles. Therefore, about 1.8 million vehicles are driven by pretend drivers. As these drivers did not go through the process, they drive carelessly with little regard. 

For public transport, especially buses, there are no fixed or specific stoppages in the city. If any pedestrian signals any bus on the rushing road, the bus is instantly stopped and the drivers take up passengers. This cannot be the way to do things.

The research organization NUMBEO published a survey recently titled “World Traffic Index-2019.” Here, Dhaka was first on the list of worst traffic. Among 207 cities, Dhaka scored 297.76, which was the highest score. According to the survey, Dhaka was first not only for traffic jams, but also for time-wasting and traffic inefficiency.

The survey of this research organization could be denied as fake and fabricated by many. But are our experts satisfied with our traffic system? Bangladesh lost 29,315 people to road accidents in the last four years. That means about 20 people died on the road every day. 

Permitting new bus routes without figuring the number of buses on the route will create massive problems. I personally believe that those who have the authority to permit new routes have this knowledge. Their decisions make no sense to me.

In 2017, World Bank published a report on the traffic jam of Dhaka city. 

That report claimed that due to traffic jams, 3.8 million working hours is lost every day. Road Accident Research Institute of BUET published a report titled “Mitigating Traffic congestion in Dhaka: Appropriate Political Agenda” which claimed that 5 million working hours were lost due to traffic, which naturally comes with a significant monetary loss in the range of thousands of crores.

If we could save these thousands of crores, we could invest this into our education, health, culture, film, transport, communication, and other necessary sectors. We could possibly even build another Padma Bridge.

I believe that controlling our traffic is possible. However, to check the problem, we desperately need a scientific action plan, and then execute it with diligence and sincerity. 

Benoy Dutta is an author and journalist. This piece was translated from Bangla by Mohammad Al Bahlul.