Traffic congestion in Dhaka has long been taking a heavy toll on five areas including working hour loss, additional fuel consumption, pavement damage, accident during peak hour, and environmental impact, thus causing a daily loss of Tk 1.53 billion.
The amount of annual economic loss has been estimated to be Tk 560 billion.
Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has estimated the economic loss soon after the withdrawal of the Covid-induced lockdown when people have started coming out of their home.
Although educational institutions, hostels, halls and many offices are still closed, Dhaka is reeling with nagging congestion like the normal time.
ARI estimated Tk 370 billion annual economic loss due to traffic congestion in Dhaka in 2018.
Talking to the FE, ARI Director Professor Hadiuzzaman said two new sectors have been incorporated in this year's calculation - pavement damage, and accidents at junctions during peak hours.
Earlier, three sectors were considered for estimating the congestion-related loss - cut in working hour, extra fuel consumption, and environmental impact.
"In 2020, the number of trip has reduced due to the Covid pandemic. Trip has reduced by 44 per cent for those who used to go to office five days a week, while it has dropped by 68 per cent for those who used to go to office three or four days a week. But Dhaka has returned to gridlock from lockdown," said Mr Hadiuzzaman.
In the 2020 estimation, the average cost of per working hour has been estimated at Tk 70. The study has calculated 25 million trips generated daily in Dhaka, 60 per cent of which are working trips.
The average speed of vehicles in the city has declined to 6.5 kilometres per hour, which will further drop to four km per hour by the next three years if this situation continues.
"We have estimated that people waste 19 million working hours per day, whose economic value is Tk 1.37 billion. As per the World Bank, the average speed situation in Dhaka city is alarming. The more the speed reduces, the higher the loss becomes," he also said.
The study also found that 40 per cent additional fuel is burned during traffic congestion. The economic value of this additional fuel is Tk 42 million. The economic value of environmental impact due to congestion, which increases air pollution and causes people's death by various respiratory diseases, is Tk 87 million.
Mr Hadiuzzaman further said it was found during the research that 40 per cent accidents occur at the junctions during peak hours, as everybody wants to cross the signal hurriedly.
Of those accidents, police personnel keep the record of fatalities and injuries only, although property damage should also be considered along with those.
In the research, only fatal and serious accidents have been considered, whose economic value is Tk 16 million per day. The amount would have been much higher if there were actual information.
"It was found from the police records that on an average 80 fatalities and 40 injuries occur during peak hours at the intersections of Dhaka city. But this information is misleading for research, as the number of incidents is underreported."
Prof Hadiuzzaman said pavement damage due to traffic congestion is considered globally for calculation. It was found that resilient modulus of the pavement lifecycle reduces by 30 per cent when loading time (pulse width) becomes longer on roads. The economic value of the pavement damage is Tk 0.82 million daily on the 200 km major arterial roads in the city.
He noted that the road network in the city is around 3,000 km. But ARI research has considered 200 km major roads, where vehicles from different districts ply with a heavy load.
Dhaka experienced a traffic congestion trend during the Covid outbreak, which was quite opposite than that of many other congestion-prone cities across the world.
The research has identified five reasons why economic loss due to traffic congestion has increased even during the Covid pandemic time in 2020.
Mr Hadiuzzaman said two new sectors have been considered, the average speed limit is reducing in Dhaka, daily trip demand is increasing with new employment generation, side friction of roads has increased due to BRT and MRT works reducing speed limit and creating congestion, and road digging for installation, repair, maintenance and transfer of gas, water, sewerage, phone and other utility lines has increased significantly.