A Prothom Alo report says, collecting fare in cash from passengers is a matter of the past in most of the big cities of the world. Instead, the authorities have introduced monthly and sometimes yearly rapid pass or special cards to pay the fare. People buy those cards. DTCA (Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority) could not introduce the system even though such an initiative was taken about seven years ago. They have, as if, completed the responsibilities after buying 60,000 rapid pass and equipment. Specialists say realising extortion would have stopped to a large extent if collecting fare in cash could have been stopped. The question is, is the system not being introduced to sustain extorting thousands of millions of money from Dhaka roads?
Around Tk 2 billion (200 crore) has been spent in the last two decades for setting signal lights on Dhaka roads, their maintenance and changing repeatedly. Despite setting up automatic signal lights at nearly 100 intersections in the capital city, transport moves at the gesture of traffic police. All the required documents of transports have become digitised over the last decade. BRTA (Bangladesh Road Transport Authority) has been using software to realise its tax and different type of fees and coordinate its activities across the country. Over Tk 30 billion (3000 crore) is being spent to implement the digital system.
All the money is being taken from the owners and drivers of around 4.5 million vehicles plying in the country. Action can be taken against any vehicle even from the control room. There is no need to check the documents of any vehicle stopping it midway. Still everything is moving at the signal of hands, and as a result the question of extortion is coming up here too. Consequently, all the digital facilities have turned into tall talks.
Over 5 million working hours is being wasted yearly due to traffic jam in Dhaka. The amount of economic loss is Tk 370 billion (37,000 crore). Due to traffic jam, average speed of a vehicle on Dhaka roads is 5 kmph, which is equal of walking speed. There cannot be any accident if a vehicle moves at this peed. Still people are dying in road accidents in Dhaka. The reason behind this is chaos on the roads. Automated traffic lights were used only for a working day in Dhaka but the experience was hazardous. Dhaka city became almost crippled due to traffic jam that day.
Transport exert professor Shamsul Haque said without addressing hundreds of engineering problems at intersections success cannot be achieved only by setting up lights there. Even manpower has not been prepared to run the system in a scientific way. Failure to provide the facilities BRTA realising money from the consumers is a form of injustice. Either the leaseholder is not providing the facilities or BRTA has introduced the digital system without achieving efficiency to take benefit from it. Development does not mean taking up projects and giving approval to allotments only - there cannot a more practical example than this one. When will our policymakers come to their senses?