Let pressure on mega city go
Shafiqul Alam | Published:
March 03, 2016 22:03:24
October 22, 2017 16:40:50
Mega city Dhaka is already a city of contrasts --- a city of gigantic towers and slums, a city of too many personal transports and stagnant roads or the like with spill-over adverse effects on all sections of the city's people. Much has been done by the city authorities on paper with little or no improvement. Much money, effort and time have been spent on formulating plans to make the capital city congestion-free. Regrettably, the demand has surpassed supply so swiftly that there has been a huge gap. The situation becomes even worse due to the fact that new cars are hitting roads on a daily basis but the old ones are not being phased out to make way while the absence of parking facilities simply worsens the situation.
Amid a plethora of mega projects, such as flyovers and proposed subway, results, however, are not visible. Furthermore, an approach to resolving the traffic problem alone may at best bring short-term relief. The traffic mess is simply a reflection of the deeper problem of poor city management. The city's environment is already threatened, pollution is increasing and water supply and sanitation facilities may collapse. Therefore, a longer-term sustainable progress in the traffic situation requires a holistic approach to improve the overall city management.
Not surprisingly, we are losing both time and money in choked roads, given our failure to introduce a mass transit in the city of millions. The authorities cannot deny their failure.
According to different studies, based on the loss of time of people, millions of dollars are lost every year in traffic jams in the capital city alone. Even a conservative approach suggests that congestion is liable for the loss of 2.0 million working hours every day, if only 2.0 million people commute every day and if the loss is only half an hour per trip. This loss is staggering in the context of a developing country like Bangladesh.
Regrettably, the ongoing flyover projects would only solve part of the traffic problem, given that only personal transports and some buses of long routes would avail the option. The mass people, who don't have personal transports, would not benefit. Problems would be compounded due to availability of less space on surface roads. However, a mass rapid transit that caters to millions of people per day has got the less priority even though the tender for a subway system was floated back in 2002.
Worryingly, the plan to build overhead mass transit would restrict the option for going beneath the ground for multiple mass transit networks like many cities, such as London, Paris, Tokyo etc. Had the first network been planned at the shallow depth, we would have options for going beneath the first network for several more in future. True as it seems, urbanisation and traffic congestion go hand in hand. However, it varies from city to city. Today, the city of London has an extensive metro rail network of more than 400 kilometres, where several networks are beneath the ground one after another at different depths. The first of these networks was introduced back in 1863. It is also notable that almost 180 cities have metro rail networks which are serving as a solution to the chronic traffic congestion.
From another perspective, the urban glitters attract people from all corners of the country, creating further stress on the infrastructure. If an extensive mass transit facility can be provided, people will have the options to live in suburban areas. This will reduce pressure on the city. There is no alternative to arresting mass migration to Dhaka.
The city, according to a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, is the second worst liveable city in the world. The city authorities must formulate a comprehensive plan keeping the mass people at its core. A radical transformation making the city modern and efficient is overdue.