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Dhaka, one of the mega cities in the world, has grown in an unplanned and unwieldly way. There is no denying that it is complex and very difficult to manage traffic in the Dhaka city. But experts believe a proper management of traffic system can reduce congestion and road crashes to a great extent. Many also say traffic congestion is a blessing for the city dwellers as more people would die if there was no traffic congestion.

The thing is city dwellers being very busy want to reach their destination safely and they also want an order in the streets. But the question is, who will establish the order and how.

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A pilot project can be implemented in a particular area of the city. The area may be Mohammadpur, Dhanmondi, Kakrail or Moghbazar. If the scenario of a particular area is visualised, for example in Mohammedpur, it was found no rules and regulations are followed. Buses, trucks, CNG-run three wheelers, rickshaws and other vehicles are being operated as per whim of the drivers.

Even in the busy area near Mohammadpur bus stop, city buses including Projapoti, Shadeen buses , are halting in the middle of the road to pick up passengers. When such things occur, many other vehicles also have to halt behind that bus as it picks up passengers. These others vehicles then blast their horns loudly to overtake. What is most unfortunate is that most of the time the traffic police mysteriously remain silent.

It was also seen that a bus stops, starts again, and then after moving for a few metres, stops again to pick up passengers. What is the most shocking is that city buses are always competing with each other, posing high risks of road crashes. It seems the drivers are playing with the lives of the passengers. For example, a bus does not allow another bus from same company to pass it. The driver of the bus halts the bus in such a way that another vehicle cannot overtake it. But the bus behind tries to cleverly overtake and sometimes hits the front bus. Passengers shout out in anger and alarm, "Are you playing with our lives?"

Then again, the pedestrians too are bothered about the traffic rules. They also cross the roads as they please. They are crossing roads from where they are not supposed to. They are least concerned about traffic rules, hopping on and off buses whenever and wherever they want.

Under such a haphazard traffic system, a pilot project may play an important role to bring order to a particular area. The project has to be implemented for a specific period of time. There must be coordination among relevant departments including the city corporation and the traffic department. Locals and public representatives have to be engaged. Additional workforce has to be appointed. As during traffic week, announcements have to be made to mobilise public awareness about traffic rules.

Such activities will continue for several weeks. After a certain period, violators including travellers and drivers will be fined. It is expected that the mindset of the city dwellers will be changed in course of time. A vast amount of time of the city people is being wasted while a large number of lives are being lost in the city. Once a system is established and people enjoy the benefit, things will become easy. This can be replicated in other areas. This is an urgent matter and no one can deny it. No more waste of time. No more lives lost. The authorities, wake up and think!

*Rabiul Islam is a journalist at Prothom Alo. He can be reached at [email protected]

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