Traffic Jam in Dhaka City

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Over the last few years the transportation problem of Dhaka City has visibly been deteriorating steadily. Citizens constantly complain about the unbearable twin problems of traffic jam and air pollution. Democracy watch decided to address this problem through an opinion poll covering around eight hundred households randomly selected from several purposively selected neighbourhoods of the city, representatives of middle and lower income areas. The questions asked focused mainly on three issues: (a) the nature of the problem as perceived by the surveyed residents, (b) their understanding about the causes of these problems and (c) their recommendations on solutions to these perceived problems. Some preliminary results from this survey were presented at a workshop, which was participated by persons associated with the formulation and implementation of traffic policies, rules and programmes .This Draft Final Report benefits from valuable discussion and comments received at the workshop. The methodology of this survey is explained below in brief. It is easy to see that the study extended beyond a standard opinion poll and entered the arena of investigative research in seeking some explanations to perceptions as well as behaviour. The findings are presented mainly in the form of self-explanatory tables with some introductory highlights and conclusions. A further extension of the survey is currently being completed to cover the very poor and the rich categories of residents as was recommended by several participants at the workshop mentioned earlier.

Reasons behind traffic jam

(a)City lay-out (master plan) and over-population:


The causes of traffic congestion in Dhaka city are multifarious. Starting from the city itself, it is observed that the skeleton, structure and lay-out of Dhaka City are not well-planned and well-directed. Dhaka is also a highly populated city. More than one crore people live here and the figure is increasing day by day. This huge population acts as an auto-catalyst of traffic congestion in Dhaka City.

(b) Inadequate and unplanned roads: Dhaka City has very inadequate road networks. For a standard city, where the minimum road requirement is 25%, Dhaka has only 7.5% road of its total area. 30% of this 7.5% road is also occupied by the hawkers, salesman and shopkeepers. A significant portion is occupied by construction materials and waste-containers of the City Corporation. As a result, vehicles do not get sufficient space to move on.

Besides this, in most cases roads are serpentine rather than being straight. This ultimately breeds a number of unnecessary junctions where vehicles automatically slow down. Again, these roads are also not well constructed and regularly repaired. City Corporation, DESA, WASA, BTTB excavate the roads randomly without any integrated and central plan. Lack of proper maintenance causes the vehicle to stop without any prior notice. During the rainy season the situation becomes more critical while the roads go under water due to heavy rain.

(c) Heterogeneous vehicles and inadequate public transport: Dhaka is a city of heterogeneous vehicles. Human puller to latest model automobile, mechanical to non-mechanical, slow to fast-moving, nothing left on the road of Dhaka. It is quite difficult to control all these vehicles on the same road as they have different speed capacity. Besides this, public transport system in Dhaka city is not adequate and properly-routed. Instead of big and spacious buses, presence of large number of mini-buses and private vehicles can only contribute to carry few passengers, but not to reduction of traffic congestion.

(d) Rail crossing: Everyday we are experiencing movement of 74 trains to and from Dhaka. On an average, it takes five minutes to get the clearance for each crossing. Thus in one crossing, everyday the...
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