By SM Najmus Sakib
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – The poor traffic and road management has not only decreased vehicular speed in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh from 21 kilometers per hour (kmph) to about 6.5 kmph in the last 12 years but also causes 40% of fuel wastage, according to the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Md. Hadiuzzaman, the director of ARI, said poor traffic management is causing huge financial losses to the country.
“Our studies say that Dhaka’s poor road traffic management and jam cause as much as 40% fuel waste worth Bangladeshi taka 41.5 million ($483,872) daily. The 1.4-time higher fuel consumption due to traffic jams is also affecting the economy,” he said.
Hasanul Banna, 35, a commuter who works at a private company, said it takes him almost one and half hours to travel a distance of 3.8 km every day from his home to office.
“I have to keep a margin of additional two hours when I have to travel on public transport in Dhaka. If you have a private vehicle, it would help you a little. But, if you get stuck in a heavy traffic jam then you don’t know how many hours it will take to reach your destination,” he said.
According to ARI estimates, the country loses 1.38 billion taka ($160 million) every day due to traffic jams.
A study conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) blames traffic snarls on low road capacity. The city of Dhaka has just 7% road capacity against the 25% requirement. Further, these roads bear a burden of 5-time more vehicles.
There are 1.7 million motor vehicles in Dhaka and only 36,000 are public buses in the 250 square kilometer city, according to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.
“It (traffic jam) continues to claim additional times outside commuters’ working and traveling hours that people usually spend for family, and the valuable time is being lost on Dhaka roads,” said Mohammad Fazle Reza Sumon, the president of BIP.
- Human toll
The heavy traffic is also taking a toll on human lives, besides causing mental discomfort. At least 413 people were killed while 532 people were injured in 379 road accidents across Bangladesh in 2021.
Road transport expert Moazzem Hossain asked the government to take charge of the public road transport in Dhaka to bring discipline on the roads, which becomes impossible in the wake of the private transport system.
“We can change the Dhaka city road to what we see in the UK and Singapore, and it will not cost much. It would cost about 30 billion takas which is less than some major projects the government is executing in Dhaka transportation,” he said.
The development works like metro rail and long flyovers would help a little to reduce the road traffic jams until we bring a major change in the road transport system, he added.
Saidur Rahman, who is an executive director of Road Safety Foundation Bangladesh, sought separate lanes for public and private transport, and speedy and slow vehicles, including a separate lane for bicycles.
The experts urged the government to promote rail and water transport services within the city as rail and waterways cause less fuel consumption than road transportation.
They said that one liter of fuel can transport as many as 275 tons of goods through a waterway and 175 tons through a railway network. But the same amount of fuel will transport just 25 tons of goods via road.
While the government had tried to introduce a franchise system for the bus routes, but it had to be deferred fourth time in December as bus operators and owners failed to reach a consensus on sharing profits.
Mahbub-E-Rabbani, spokesperson for Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), said the government is working to ensure road safety and keep order on roads.
“All of our sections and entities of BRTA are working closely to address road safety issues. We are aware of the road safety movement and meeting demands for safe roads after holding meetings with all stakeholders,” he said.