Two city corporations had unveiled a plan some months back to relocate the inter-district bus terminals to places outside the city. The mayors also had visited a few likely locations.
Relocation will take time since there are other stakeholders. An agreement between all the relevant parties will be necessary. Moving the bus terminals is not just building all the infrastructures and facilities, other issues need to be looked into.
Right at this moment, it seems none is in a position to say when the relocation of bus terminals will take place. But, in the meantime, if not the bus terminals at Jatrabari and Gabtali, the Mahakhali terminal has emerged as a serious obstacle to the smooth movement of traffic in the city.
Soon after the removal of an unauthorised truck stand at Satmatha, Tejgaon, the late mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Annisul Huq, could restore traffic discipline, to a notable degree, in and around bus terminals at Mahakhali and Gabtoli. But soon after his demise, things started coming back to the old state.
It will not be enough to describe the traffic movement situation from morning till midnight surrounding the Mahakhali bus terminal as terrible. It is more than that. At times, buses are parked on the streets in two rows on both sides of the road in front of the terminal. Soon after dusk, some buses are even kept in the vacant space along the U-loops. It becomes difficult for even one vehicle to pass through the remaining space. Traffic congestion has become a chronic problem in the area. But there is none to look into the problem and give relief to the commuters. This paper has reported on the issue twice, but neither the DNCC nor the DMP traffic division has done anything tangible to ensure order in traffic movement in this part of Tejagoan Industrial Area.
It remains a mystery why the traffic police allow parking by buses for hours together on a busy thoroughfare. Allegations have it that the owners of buses being politically influential refuse to pay heed to traffic policemen. Then again, there is an issue of palm-greasing, which, according to many, plays a major part in the erratic behaviour of the bus operators. The sad demonstration of that unholy alliance is often found in the peaceful coexistence of police wreckers and illegally parked buses on the road!
But the question that might agitate the minds of many is: why are top notches of the DNCC or DMP so indifferent to the problem? Don’t they ever pass through the road in front of the Mahakhali bus terminal? If yes, why don't they take remedial measures?
The U-loop near Nabisco, because of its faulty construction, has been impeding smooth traffic movement in the area. When large vehicles make a u-turn using the U-loop, other vehicles get stuck behind because of the lack of enough space to move ahead. The builders of the U-loops should have considered the issue.
The traffic congestion in front of the Mahakhali bus terminal may be serious, but not unique. Most other areas of the city are familiar with the traffic tailbacks. Commuters spend hours crossing a small distance, say, 14 to 20 kilometres. True, city roads cannot hold such an enormous number of vehicles. True, the traffic system is outdated and faulty. But what is about the unruly behaviour of the bus owners and transport workers and the unregulated movement of buses and other vehicles? The situation can surely be improved to a certain degree, provided the relevant authorities mean business.