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Making Dhaka roads free of chaos  

Published: August 31, 2019 22:02:51 | Updated: September 02, 2019 22:08:12


The overall scenario of the Dhaka roads appears reverting back to square one. The perplexed road users, pedestrians and others just look on helplessly. They have few alternatives to finding themselves condemned to remaining stuck in the pervasive traffic anarchy for an indefinite period. Given the alarming deterioration in Dhaka's traffic situation, the countrywide student movement for safe roads now seems to have slipped into oblivion. After all the proposed remedial programmes having made noisy rounds for sometime, the roads have begun offering the same old spectacles: the wild competition between buses to overtake each other, dropping and picking passengers at mid-road points, including flyovers, defying traffic signals and the incorrigible jaywalking. Impunity for errant buses has become the norm. In a free-for-all like this, an unwieldy bus's veering on to the footpath while engaged in an overtaking competition with another, and hitting a lady passer-by grievously goes beyond credulity.

To call reckless buses overshooting their designated road width and careening into safety-seeking people just defiant is a gross understatement.  Disgruntled pavement users cannot help calling these incidents the last straw on the camel's back. City dwellers are panic-stricken; they discover themselves in a great quandary -- with many overpasses dismantled to make space for the under-construction metro rail, which walkways have been kept for them exclusively? Moreover, footpaths in busy areas remain crammed with pedestrians. To avoid being victims of stampede, many of them stray into the traffic gridlock on the main roads. Speaking tersely, it's like courting hazards, and, on occasions, deaths.

The newly built national and regional highways have fallen victim to rogue bus, truck and heavy vehicle drivers since their opening. At places, improvised slow-moving vehicles create trouble for the larger ones. They have been singled out by experts for causing a number of accidents. Terrible head-on collisions between different types of large-size vehicles and smaller private cars are commonplace. The frequency of these mishaps increases during Eid vacations. Last Eid-ul-Azha holidays witnessed a number of such fatal accidents.

Observers believe that most of the blame should be placed at the traffic management's doorstep. Starting with fake licensing papers to the non-functioning of the signals to the bus drivers' random stoppages and traffic personnel's stopping vehicles for checking papers amid thick traffic, the chaos is ubiquitous. At times law enforcers are helpless when vehicles carrying influential persons move on the wrong side. On the other hand, despite their both entreaties and reprimands, pedestrians avoid the safe overpasses and continue jaywalking.

No wonder, in Dhaka lately, unfit motorised vehicles have again stealthily started plying the roads scot-free. Few can be brought to book and punished. These irregularities have given the country's road transport sector a bad name on global indexes. With the overhead metro rail communication poised to be in place in Dhaka, optimists look to those days for moving comfortably in large parts of the city. The other such projects like elevated expressways ought to materialise with no inordinate delay.

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