Colossal loss and stresses from traffic jams

Traffic congestion in Dhaka eats up around 5 million working hours every day and the average speed of vehicles during rush hours has come down to 5kmph, according to the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Buet. The congestion causes an annual loss of between Tk 20,000 crore and Tk 55,000 crore, says ARI, citing findings of organisations working on the issue.”However, about 50 to 70 percent of the losses can be avoided through proper actions,” ARI Director Prof Moazzem Hossain told a roundtable last week.”Sixty percent of Tk 37,000 crore [half way between Tk 20,000 crore and Tk 55,000 crore] can be saved by those actions,” he said,
In July last year, a World Bank analysis had said in the last 10 years, average traffic speed in Dhaka dropped from 21kmph (kilometres per hour) to 7kmph, which was slightly above the average walking speed.The speed may drop to 4kmph by 2035, slower than the walking speed, it added.”Congestion in Dhaka eats up 3.2 million work hours per day. This cost the economy billions of dollars every year,” said the analysis.
Dhaka, a city of over 15 million and Bangladesh’s biggest city in terms of population, is noted to be a specially long suffering one by its residents for the traffic jams they always face on its roads. Thus, it was hoped that the present government with its pledged enthusiastic approach to many issues of major public interest, would move with particular speed and effectiveness to address this long lingering issue of traffic jams that take a huge and regular toll from stressed nerves and health, costlier operations of transports and other forms of losses.
But the traffic scene in this city has been turning only worse and people are desperate for a deliverance. According to reports, progressively traffic movement conditions in the city have been turning worse and worse. In many places and most of the time, traffic gets held up motionlessly for more than half an hour or so without any plausible explanation for the same. Thus, a destination to be arrived at in twenty minutes needs at least one and half hours or more to be reached. The horrendous traffic jams are creating great hardships. Many people are known to be falling ill as a result. If the traffic situation is so bad, how severely it would stress them during the coming Ramadan month when their coping strengths would be understandably at a lower level from fasting, the sufferers wonder.
Traffic department officials on being asked say many things ranging from inadequate roads in the city and the absence of a sufficient number of infrastructures such as flyovers and expressways. But only more devoted traffic management by traffic policemen or their doing their job with enthusiasm and care, can much alleviate the traffic related agonies suffered by the city’s residents.
As it is, the traffic policemen are seen doing a very sloppy job specially at intersections with their hand signalling althoughsignalling lights were set up for doing this work at great costs. But media reports say that most of these lights are out of order. Why the lights should be inoperative and whose responsibility is it to operate them in support of easing traffic jams ? Traffic policemen hold up traffic for unreasonably long periods of time with their manual signalling that lead to long queus of transports forming and creating jams. Proper use of the automatic signalling lights can much reduce this malaise and speed up traffic movement.
Then the policemen also do nothing to buses stopping not at bus stops but arbitrarily anywhere on the roads to allow passangers to embark or disembark. But this practice holds up other vehicles on the rear creating jams. Real estate developers and others keep construction materials heaped up on roads but nobody obliges them to keep the roads free and clean from such encroachments. Traffic policemen turn a blind eye to rickshawpullers not moving in a single file or in lanes on roads earmarked for them but in a most carefree manner. The rickshaws, thus, get in front of engine driven vehicles and create tangles that force the latter to slow down and add to the jams. Transports are also allowed to be parked similarly carelessly that lead to constricting of roads spaces hindering easier traffic movement.
The roads are in tatters in many places. Traffic movement over these crumbled or pot-holed roads automatically become too slow. Only repairing them can quicken traffic movement. According to experts, only introducing one way movement in some sections such as in the Rampura road will very significantly add to ease of movement between the central and relatively newer parts of the city.
All of the above reasons and more for traffic jams do not call for building costly infrastructures . Just more caring and efficient traffic policing can mean so much of a difference for the better in traffic movement in the city.


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