No let-up in city traffic chaos

Shahin Akhter
city traffic

The Gulistan-Jatrabari flyover remains without traffic while vehicles, to avoid the high rate of toll slapped on the movement of vehicles on the flyover, get caught in a snarl-up just beneath. The photo was taken at Gulistan in Dhaka on Monday. — Indrajit Ghosh

Successive costly but unrealistic initiatives failed to improve the capital’s chaotic traffic over the last 11 years.
In no other city of the world traffic management is as chaotic as in the Bangladesh capital.
Experts demanded an end to amateurish experiments spending huge sums that only served the interest of money makers leaving the capital and its residents in the lurch.
The government is planning to reinstall sensor-based automatic traffic signals at Paltan Crossing, Gulistan Crossing, Mohakhali Crossing and the Gulshan 1 Crossing as an experimental project from December.
If the experiment produces positive results, sensor based automatic traffic signals would be reinstalled at 70 points, said officials.
Experts said that it would be a costly journey back to 2005, when the then Dhaka City Corporation had installed sensor based automatic traffic signals at 70 crossings in the capital.
Even officials expressed
doubts about efficacy of sensor based automatic signals in a metropolis with acute shortage of roads.
They said that if the authorities order they are left with no option but to implement even unrealistic projects.
Automatic traffic signals, timer countdowns and digital display boards installed in the past did not work ‘in our capital in the past,’ BUET’s Accident Research Institute director professor Moazzem Hossain told New Age.
He said that traffic signals could be effective in the Bangladesh capital until 1995.
He said reinstallation of sensor based traffic signals would not work in the capital.
Moazzem, a transportation and traffic system expert, said some officials sell traffic problems to the higher authorities in their own interests.
Absence of a single traffic management authority, he said, intensified the congestions on the capital’s roads.
For this reason, he said, no single authority could be held to account for the traffic mismanagement suffered by the residents.
He blamed failure to take methodical, rational and coherent approach for leaving the capital’s traffic in the mess it is.
He said sporadic approaches can’t solve the capital’s traffic problems.
He called for taking low cost projects for resolving the capital’s chaotic traffic.
The capital’s traffic congestions cost $4.6 billion per year in terms of lost time, waste of fuel and health consequences and other losses, says a UNDP study done in 2015-16.
The capital’s two city corporations and Dhaka Metropolitan Police would jointly install the sensor based automatic signal system at four intersection under an Integrated Traffic Management Project planned by Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority.
DTCA would provide the support for the implementation of Tk 36.38 crore pilot project funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency, project director and DTCA additional executive director AKM Myn Uddin Ahmed told New Age.
Installed at fixed gaps sensors, also called detectors would evaluate queues of vehicles stranded in jams and instantly feed the information to the automated control system at the intersections for systematic dispersals, he said.
He said that the four sensor based signalling systems would be operational from December.
The system was due to be operational in June.
A senior road transport and bridges ministry official said that traffic signals became redundant for the capital.
‘We need to remove all traffic signals and build more overpasses and underpasses for smooth traffic movement,’ he said.
The police manually control traffic movement now by keeping traffic waiting for long on sweet whims.
In 2005, sensor based automatic traffic signals were installed at 70 crossings spending Tk 13 crore under a World Bank funded project.
In 2014, timer countdown devices were installed at 70 traffic signals spending Tk 96.71 lakh.
A little earlier, 31 digital display boards were installed at key points of the capital spending Tk 27 crore.
The unused traffic signals, timer countdown devices and digital display boards became show pieces for sending to museums.

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