The acute traffic congestions on the city streets have brought the average speed of vehicles down to 6km per hour. There’s a joke that in Dhaka city, cars walk and people run. And yet, despite the snail’s pace of vehicular movement, people die and are maimed in road accidents regularly in the capital city. So that means speeding vehicles are not the only cause for road accidents. The slow moving vehicles are enough to snatch away a person’s life in a matter of moments. That is the gruesome reality of our dear city Dhaka. Only recently a young man Rajib lost his hand in between two buses, ultimately losing his life as a result of this accident.
Why have the capital’s streets become death traps? It is because of the blatant disorder. The vehicles do not bother to remain in the proper lanes, but dangerously race with each other on the congested streets. The dents and scrapes on the sides of the buses and minibuses are stark evidence of this careless driving. Rajib lost his hand as a result of such racing between two bus drivers. Traffic rules are being violated constantly, buses stop anywhere at random to pick up passengers. According to a study of the Passengers Welfare Association, 87 per cent of the buses and minibuses in the capital city are driven most dangerously.
As it is, the number of vehicles is disproportionately higher than the roads required in the capital city. There are about 8000 buses and minibuses alone plying the streets. Then there are the private cars, taxicabs, auto-rickshaws, and other smaller forms of public transport, motorbikes, rickshaws and so on - a burgeoning number in comparison to the number of roads. And there is a profusion of vehicles unfit for the roads, but are still in operation. Something must be done to restore order to the streets. Overall management is a must. But the authorities seem least bothered.
Extortion is one of the main reasons behind the mayhem. According to Prothom Alo investigations, the buses and minibuses which operate in and around Dhaka city, each have to pay between Tk 700 to Tk 1700 every day in “toll”. That is why they are in a crazy competition to pick up more passengers in order to make money for the “toll”. This extortion has become a permanent feature and is directly or indirectly controlled by ministers, MPs, ruling party leaders and workers. Many of the bus owners are political powerful persons. The police can do nothing about their vehicles running without fitness certificates. Their drivers are careless, passengers are hassled over fares and overcharged.
Such disorder on the capital’s streets cannot be allowed to continue year after year. Not only are accidents causing deaths and disability, but the economy is hit too. The traffic congestion cuts drastically into work hours. It is imperative to restore discipline to the city streets. The most important requirement is the government’s commitment and sincere action.