In Dhaka city nowadays, traffic congestion has become a common phenomenon. Everyday traffic snarls are spoiling 5.0 million working hours, reveals a report run by a national daily. And that causes an estimated annual loss of Tk 370.0 billion.
The problem in the country's capital city has come to such a level that vehicles cannot move on the streets and roads at their usual speed. They move at a snail's pace or have to stop often, causing loss to commuters' valuable time and money. About 12 years back, the speed was 21 kilometres and now it comes down to five kilometres an hour on average, that is a little over walking pace.
Too many motor vehicles are now trying to ply the city's available roads. With poor traffic management, that causes sufferings to commuters in the congestion for hours together almost every day.
Experts are of the views that the speed of motorised vehicles in the city has declined to a pace of walking speed. Even while making a short journey from one place to another, people fall into trap of congestion losing time beyond expectations and this uncertainty has reached an unbearable level. This is something that the city dwellers have to face beginning every morning.
Especially for students, traffic jam is an ordeal since most of them live away from their educational institutions. These young boys and girls lose their maximum stamina, not for study, but in their struggle for going to and from schools, colleges and universities, thanks to notorious traffic jam. Many of them cannot attend their classes in time.
During the public examinations, the situation turns into rather a horrific nightmare for students and their parents and guardians.
Besides, when buses are at a standstill, some passengers are often seen leaving them. They instead walk to reach their destinations.
As many people know by this time, two major factors are identified as contributing most to Dhaka city's traffic congestion. They are (i) the ever-burgeoning city population; and (ii) a large number of new vehicles that are joining the existing ones regularly.
Moreover, the road conditions in Dhaka city are deplorable unfortunately. They are in a state of disrepair due to lack of adequate planning and preparations over the previous decades.
The measures to address people's suffering caused by traffic congestion are not yet fully visible. Most of the long- and short-term plans or recommendations adopted by authorities concerned are yet to bear fruits, as the problem indicates.
The failure to establish a passenger-friendly mass transport system across the country has led to increase in the number of accidents. Also, quality of services to passengers has hit rock-bottom at the moment. About 50 per cent of the passengers use buses as their mode of vehicle. But our public bus system is quite deficient.
Therefore, there should be focus on greater investments in public bus transport system and infrastructures. In a mega city like Dhaka, the terrible traffic anarchy and congestion that the commuters experience should not continue for an indefinite period. The situation must improve at the earliest to eradicate sufferings of the commuters in Dhaka and also elsewhere in the country.
Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled is a retired Professor of Economics and Vice Principal at Cumilla Women's Government College, Cumilla.