7 years ago

The mysterious traffic gridlock

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The traffic gridlock on Matsya Bhaban-Shahbagh route still remains terrible as it has been for the last few years. The situation is indeed serious as it has spill-over effects on traffic movement on other routes. 
Usually, as there is no other place in the capital except the National Press Club premises for holding sit-in protests or peaceful assemblies, the Matsya Bhaban-Shahbagh route has emerged as yet another place for venting grievances but not on the road but on hundreds of buses and minibuses carrying the commuters. 
As these vehicles stand stuck for an hour or so to pass the Shahbagh point, the tired passengers, after busy office hours, are seen engaged in bitterly criticising the traffic department for doing nothing to end their years-long hassle.
This writer, a regular bus passenger, was struck the other day when a passenger was asking a man sitting by his side, "Do you know why we have to remain stranded for an hour or more on this route?"
"No, I don't," replied the man.
"As there are at least 200 hawkers on the Matsya Bhaban-Shahbagh route, the traffic sergeants deliberately keep the vehicles stuck here so that they could sell their wares aboard the stranded buses and mini-buses in exchange for regular toll!" said the passenger. 
About a dozen passengers burst into loud laughter on hearing this. But the reality is, as this scribe finds it, the traffic personnel allow vehicles to pass through the Farmgate-TSC route on a priority basis, denying similar treatment to the Matsya Bhaban-Shahbagh route. This route, needless to mention, is also very important as most of the buses, mini-buses and cars meant for Mirpur-1 (through Science Lab), Mirpur-10 and Uttara (through Farmgate) ply on this. No VIPs usually use this route. But the police simply ignore the vehicles lying stranded for hours. 
A similar situation occurs at Science Lab inter-section. Quite often, it takes nearly one hour to cross the Kalabagan-Science Lab route.
It is indeed a shame for the traffic department for failing miserably to address the grave traffic situation on these two routes.
A traffic inspector, above the rank of sergeant, was asked last week what really happens to the Matsya Bhaban route. He gave a vacant look at the questioner and refused to answer. "Shahbagh is not under my jurisdiction," he simply said. 
On these two busy routes, electronic traffic signals serve as mere items of curiosity for most of the passengers. They are often seen regretting that at a time when traffic in almost all countries of the world-both developed and developing-is regulated by electronic signals, these utterly fail in the Bangladesh capital. 
There must be a high-level probe into the situation by forming a committee with civil society activists, journalists, passengers and traffic personnel. Something must have gone wrong somewhere in the system. Otherwise, how over-populated Kolkata could use the electronic signals effectively to control  flow of vehicles with passengers hardly noticing police personnel standing near the signals as we see in Dhaka. Only one or two cops are seen idling away their time just standing at the inter-sections while the signals do their duty!

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