Transport problem in Dhaka city is a great problem for the city dwellers. The number of topics one needs to discuss for understanding this problem is many. Naturally the in-depth presentation (citation and analysis) of the causes contributing to this problem and finding out their solutions might lead to a voluminous paper. However, in view of shortage of space I shall endeavour to present those rather briefly.
Nature of transport problem:
In order to judge the nature of transport problem as experienced in Dhaka city we shall categorise various aspects of the problem in the following headlines:
(a) Problem faced by all types of people in reaching destination within walking limit,
(b) Problem faced by the low income people in reaching destination requiring vehicle,
(c) Problem faced by the mid-income people in reaching destination requiring vehicle,
(d) Problem faced by the high-income people in reaching destination requiring vehicle.
(a) Problem faced by all types of people:
The problems faced by all types of people in reaching the destination within walking limit are the following:
In any city footpaths are the prime, first and most essential mode of movement. In emergencies like fire incident, earthquake etc., when vehicles rather madly run in the roads, footpaths is the only mode of movement for the people. The city authorities have shown unpardonable irresponsibility in maintaining the footpath. In some cases the authorities whose responsibility was to keep the footpath walk-able, themselves have created obstruction for selfish interests. Thus the Chief Engineer of Dhaka City Corporation has constructed ‘guardian’s shed’ on the footpath in front of a renowned girls’ school in Dhanmondi Residential Area. This ‘creation’ may rightly be called ‘Super-Taj’.
Tajmahal was created at the labour of 18,000 men for 22 years. This Super-Taj has been creating problems for millions of people ever since its creation by its ‘great creator’. No one should expect good result so long a person with such level of intelligence adorns that high a position. I would be happy to see our lawyers to lodge suo motto cases against the organisations who, with the responsibility of keeping the footpath ‘walk-able’ rather create obstructions.
In case of footpath we find the following types of lacking:
(i) Absence of footpath,
(ii) Poor condition and
(iii) Creation of obstruction.
(i) Absence of footpath:
In addition to health reasons, in a city suffering from excessive vehicles the dwellers should be encouraged to walk. For this purpose footpaths with acceptable quality should be provided in all possible cases. The following general policy can be adopted for this purpose:
All roads with width 10 feet and above shall be considered as vehicular roads. It would be obligatory for the city authorities to provide footpath by the side of all vehicular roads, such that the walkers are not dashed to death by the bumping vehicles. The width of the footpath shall be 4 feet and above wide (can be minimum 2 feet only in 10 feet wide roads) and over 6 inch high from the level of the road.
(ii) Poor condition:
It is needless to describe the poor condition of the footpaths in Dhaka city. So, we better mention the general policy to be adopted for their betterment.
By principle the footpaths should be constructed with resilient and non-slippery surface and these should be horizontal and plane. There shall not be any step anywhere along its length. There will be gentle slope with minimum gradient 1:8 to maintain levels with the adjacent areas in such a way that children’s perambulator, trolley, wheel chairs etc. can move easily.
(iii) Creation of obstruction:
At present electric posts, telephone posts, junction boxes etc. create obstruction on the footpath.
All sorts of obstructions should be removed from the footpaths. The disturbing posts, by rule, should be constructed along the boundary walls and the junction boxes, beside the gate posts of the houses, after due consultation with the house owners.
Dwellers’ crossing of vehicular roads must be made safe. It can be done by arranging zebra-cross marking and construction foot over-bridge at suitable locations. In the present situation the following policy general may be taken in this regard.
In all vehicular roads there shall be 10 feet to 20 feet wide (depending upon the width of the road) clearly marked Zebra-crossing showing two distinct directions for walking. In order to facilitate pedestrian movements the light signals shall be arranged to stop the vehicles of all lanes of one road from both directions. There shall be ramp in between footpath and road for movement of wheel carts. No raised island shall be constructed along the width of the Zebra-crossing.
There shall be foot over-bridge at the mid-point of each single-run (section of road with continuous road divider). All such bridges shall have roof and other climatic protection.
(b) Problem faced by low income people:
The major problems faced by the poor people in reaching destination requiring vehicles are the following:
(i) Inadequate number of vehicle,
(ii) Problem in management,
(iv) Long travel time.
(i) Inadequate number of vehicle:
The poor people travel mostly in bus, minibus and auto-tempo. Even though the general cause of transport problem in Dhaka city is ‘excessive vehicles’, the number of vehicles the poor people use is inadequate. There is however, no inadequacy of vehicles in the city. But the owners create this scarcity because by doing this they can become gainer by carrying more people per vehicle and charging higher fares.
Thus it is a ‘management problem’, where the service providers create situations in their favour. The city authorities, whose duty is to look after the welfare of the people, keep mum either because they are bribed or because they lack in the intelligence to understand their fraudulent tricks. In our discussion on ‘super-taj on footpath’ we have mentioned what type of people we have in higher positions.
It may be mentioned here that the bus-owners have one genuine problem. As soon as there is increase in travel time, there happens increment in their expenses, which they must realise. In the present situation introducing more bus would help in increasing vehicular jam. It is obvious that as soon as the buses would need less travel time, the owners would increase their number and frequency of travel.
(ii) Problem in the management:
Definitely there lie problems in transport management in Dhaka city. It happened due to black liaison of the trio’s who are
(i) Vehicle owners,
(ii) Bureaucrats and
(iii) Elected representatives.
The owners of vehicles are in the habit of earning profit at the cost of anything including traveler’s problems and they are ready to continue that sharing the extra-earning with the bureaucrats and politicians.
Since there is no system of allocating fund to the political workers for running their activities, the politicians usually collect the same from the law-breakers (in this case, the vehicle owners), who earn additional profit by such violations. In most cases the bureaucrats are infamous for their readiness to accept bribe and for having low level of intelligence. In addition, some of them have been found to act as medium in between the two other parties for selfish gain.
In the present context of vehicular jamming, any new policy in the above field is meaningless.
The fare charged by various vehicles is determined on the basis of a number of factors. However, in Bangladesh three major tendencies work in its finalization. These are:
(01) The owners try to make the fair as high as possible,
(02) The passengers expect it to be low as possible and
(03) The elected members and bureaucrat administrators try to intervene, where they expect to have some share from additional increase.
At times the authorities in collusion with the vehicle owners arrange inadequate number of vehicles, such that the owners/drivers can increase fare by taking the scope of scarcity.
The fare to be determined on the basis of market cost only. Enhancing the same for fulfilling some corner’s evil interest is most unfortunate. However, whatever might be the fare fixed by the authority, the owners cannot abide by the same unless the trip time becomes normal and the politicians do not ask for share.
(iv) Long travel time:
Travel time increases if:
(i) There is less intra-vehicular distance,
(ii) If the vehicle’s motion is interrupted due to frequent stoppage and right-hand turn etc.
The only means of increasing intra-vehicular distance in the present situation, where there is no scope of widening the road is decreasing the number of vehicles or decrease their appearances on road.
There shall be minimum number of right-turns in the major roads. It may be arranged after every two kilometers or more, such that within this distance the vehicles may proceed with speed. There shall be foot over-bridge at the mid-point of the ‘single-run’ of the road such that people would not have to cross on land and the vehicles could run speedily.
The city authorities must take other steps to lessen the travel time of the public transports.
(c) Problems faced by mid-income people:
The vehicles the middle income people use are taxi-cab, CNG scooter and bus. Major problems faced by them in reaching distant destinations are:
(i) Inadequate number of vehicles,
(ii) High fare,
(iii) Long travel time,
(iv) Less comfort and
(v) Lack of accountability of the drivers.
(i) Inadequate number of vehicle:
The vehicles that the middle income people usually use are taxi, CNG-scooter etc. At present there remains tremendous crisis of these vehicles. It is a matter of common sense that the fare would increase with less availability of the vehicles. It is now a open secret what made the previous government to drive away the huge number of petrol driven scooters (baby-taxi) and to replace those with inadequate number of CNG scooters.
(ii) High fare:
The increase of fare is the resultant of inadequate number of vehicles in a city with ever increasing demand of vehicles.
(iii) Long travel time:
In addition to bus, the two types of vehicles mentioned above and used frequently by the middle income people also cannot move with usual velocity because of vehicular jamming and propensity of right-hand turns. Policy no. 05 mentioned earlier is capable of taking care of this situation.
(iv) Less comfortable:
There is enough scope of improving the body of the CNG scooters with glass doors, suspended fans, comfortable seats etc.
(v) Lack of accountability of drivers:
Sometimes the passengers and most of the time the parents cannot rely on the drivers of the vehicles because of lack accountability of the drivers. There is no way to be sure if the driver of the bus would slip way immediately after accident, the CNG driver would hijack the children or the taxi driver would pull out arms.
As a general policy, the photograph, name and license number of the bus, taxi and CNG driver must be preserved in a board (1 feet by 1 feet in case of bus, smaller in other cases) in front of the passengers. No vehicle without this arrangement would be allowed to drive in the city.
Detail information including photograph of all drivers, driving vehicle in the city shall be preserved in a website for public viewing. In case of serious accidents, irrespective of whatever might be the decision of the court of law, the concerned driver will not be allowed to drive in the city for a period of minimum one year.
(d) Problem faced by high-income people:
The vehicles the higher income people use in reaching destination at distance are private car, jeep or micro-bus. The problems they face in travel are:
(i) Increased running and maintenance cost due to lesser effective velocity of the vehicle and
(ii) Long travel time.
Both of these factors are associated with road-jamming caused by excessive number of vehicles.
Eradicating the prime cause:
In the above discussion we have seen that the prime, foremost and most important cause behind transport problem is ‘excess of vehicles’. As any city grows laterally and its population and vehicles increase proportionally it becomes hard to maintain intra-vehicular distance required for maintaining permissible velocity of the vehicles.
In foreign countries this is usually done by widening the main road by several lanes. Some countries attempted to solve the same by constructing ‘elevated expressways’ only to discover the blunder later. I would like to mention the following points for those who may not have any idea about this blunder.
(i) No reduction in travel time:
Elevated expressways ensure quick movement of vehicles in between its two ends or parts or parts thereof. This encourages more vehicles to use it. Whatever quickly the vehicles might move, all of those would have to come to the ground level for usual business. When hundreds or thousands of vehicles get down through certain points, those create the worst jamming in the city. Experience from Lagos (of Nigeria, Africa) reveals the following: “A vehicle needs about say 45 minutes to cross the 40 Kilometer North-South expressway. Then, after it gets down and intends to reach a place at say, 3 kilometer distance it may need 3 hours or more, thus making the journey-time, 3 hours and 45 minutes.”
(ii) Reversing some traffic rules:
The normal traffic rule is “the vehicle on main road shall run interruptedly and the vehicle from the branch road would enter only when there is scope”. When the intra-vehicular distance reduces from 50/60 feet to say, 10 feet, the above rule is changed to “Vehicles plying in the main road shall stop and allow the vehicle from the branch road to enter”. One may wonder “WHY” and may even promise not to do it. For them the advice is, “The city would come to a standstill unless the rule is not reversed.”
In Dhaka city there is no scope of widening the roads and there is not enough space for constructing elevated expressways. It is possible to avoid the phenomenon of “Stop, wait and go” at the road-junctions and continue the simultaneous movements of the vehicles in all directions by constructing multilevel bridge-roads, known as ‘clover-leaf’ (in fact it is not possible in Dhaka for want of land). The solution needs huge money and space for construction. However, it reduces neither travel time nor distance of journey.
It only gives psychological satisfaction to the drivers that they did not have to keep waiting. And all these takes place at cost of huge gasoline. In the western countries whose interest lies in sale of more cars and use of more fuel have been found to adopt similar other solutions also. None of those should be adopted by a country that neither manufacturers car nor have adequate fuel.
Who caused the problem of excessive number of vehicles?
The above discussions reveal that in Dhaka city there is practically no scope of accommodating the huge vehicles mainly because of constraints in widening the roads. The constraint of road-widening is not a recent or new phenomenon, but existed since long ago.
Naturally the question may raise, in spite of this known fact why the respective organisations could not solve it, or what made them to make the problem more severe day by day? The fact is, it has been made more severe by the concerned organisations because of their lack of knowledge and dishonesty. The principle organisations referred above are:
(01) Traffic engineers:
During calculating road efficiency they forgot the hidden factor that ‘efficiency decreases with the decrease of allowable velocity and effective velocity depends upon intra-vehicular distance’. In case they considered this point, they could think of the well-accepted solution of ‘creation of more lanes’ at least in the new developments, even though the same could not be practiced in the built-up areas of Dhaka. Even though they arranged wider roads in new development, they forgot to do the same on the basis of the above mentioned factor.
(02) Physical planners:
The physical planners forgot not only the above factor, but also the ill-effect of the living of so many people in a large area without segregation, which is essential for the smooth running of a city.
(03) Political leaders:
The political leaders having little technical knowledge usually look for projects that would add to their popularity and / or create other gains. For popularity they looked for continuously annexing the adjacent areas, at times by constructing bridges, providing buses for the commuters etc.
What all the above three groups forgot was, Dhaka was a built-up city differing from other cities of the world in many points and that the problems of this city needed to be solved distinctively in its own way, and not blindly following the instances from abroad.
How was it caused?
The Traffic Engineers and Physical Planners did not clearly spell out that constantly increasing the population of the city by annexing areas, creating corridor roads, allowing multilevel buildings in a city (where the financial condition of considerable number of dwellers enable car-owning and their economy, car-maintaining) would lead to ‘slow speed phenomenon’ due to excessive number of cars in narrow roads. On the other hand, they either advocated or endorsed the following erroneous suggestions:
(a) Annexing the areas adjacent to the main city, thus adding additional people and their vehicle,
(b) Creating residential areas outside the city and inviting them to work as commuter, thus busying the city roads with their vehicles,
(c) Allowing multistoried buildings with car parking, thus increasing population and vehicles, and
(d) Constructing a number of bridges over the river, thus allowing more people from distant areas to crowd the city roads with their vehicles.
Quite often they mentioned the case of Kolkata (the city that considerably depends commuters from adjacent and distant areas) forgetting the fact that the commuters mostly use trains and metro. They mention of other busy cities from abroad forgetting that such cities arranged multi-lane expressways on land or at different layers from the very beginning.
They forget that in Dhaka there is little scope of expansion of trains (already many have been closed because of associated problems), no scope of creating multi-lane highways, and the country’s economy does not allow the extremely expensive program of mono-rail or metro for easing the transportation problem of only a city, depriving the rest of the people of the entire country.
What should have been done?
It has already been mentioned that since that since Bangladesh is different, its problems also are different and endeavors should be made to solve these in distinctively its own way. It is now proven that following other’s instances have only complicated our problems. Some of the solutions our physical planners could have suggested on the basis of our context are the following:
(01) They could suggest that the city should grow as semi-detached, self-reliant and to some extent self-sufficient compartments. In macro-scale the physical extent of each compartment could be determined on the basis of the vehicle-bearing capacity of the roads. They are aware that this number is determined such that during peak hour the vehicles can get the essential intra-vehicular distance to continue normal speed. They already know that there is no scope of widening the roads in old Dhaka, while those designed in the new part are a bit wider. In such a city, in case there remains no restriction on the entry of vehicles from the adjacent areas, then any region may be jammed at any moment.
(02) They could also suggest smaller compartments with physical extents determined on the basis of walking limit and could suggest means of getting the essential and daily needs in each such mini-compartment, such that people would have to rely less on vehicles.
(03) They should have suggested for imposing restriction for vehicles coming from outside in the following ways:
(i) Those using the city for ‘short-cut’ distance should have been diverted to the peripheral roads.
(ii) Public transports coming from outside should have been stopped at the terminals at the periphery and
(iii) The vehicles registered outside Dhaka and having jobs in the city could be allowed entry in exchange of payment of money.
Reducing number of vehicle:
Reducing the number of vehicles, especially the private cars, is really a problem in a democratic country. Being dependent on others the country cannot displease the rich countries, who prefer to sell their old cars in place of destroying. In such a situation people have purchased many cars because:
(01) In a democratic country the people who can maintain cars have the right to purchase those. Naturally the affluent families have purchased not one but many cars for their private use.
(02) Some middle income people who in fact cannot afford cars have been compelled to purchase the same by curtailing essential expenditures because the city fathers, intentionally or mistakenly have designed it a way that, it has become difficult for them to live without a car.
“Why?” Say, a middle income family lives in one area of the city. The family discovers that the good-quality schools are available in another area at distance. The family frequently or occasionally needs doctor’s suggestion and good physicians have their clinics in another area. They may discover that even though there is a kacha bazaar in their locality, items are quite bad and at the same time costly, and so on so forth.
This situation happened in the city because all the professionals and sellers mentioned above established their places of business in places where they could find maximum profit. While they cannot be blamed for it, the city authority must be blamed that does not even know how to help the dwellers by uniformly distributing these facilities throughout the city.
Whatever the men in business may shout in their advertisement, they have absolutely no responsibility to look at the interest of the common people. It is really a shame that the government which exists for the cause of people’s welfare and the bureaucrats who get salary only for serving the cause of the people not only keep blind eyes to their responsibilities, but create such problematic situations for the dwellers through which they can squeeze out money from the beneficiaries.
Various proposals for reducing the cars:
It is now known to all that excessive number of cars is the prime cause of Dhaka city’s transport problem. In such a situation various organizations and persons have put forth their proposals for reducing the same. It will not be out of place to mention some of their proposals. Alongside such proposals we annex our comments also within parenthesis.
(01) Increasing tax on car purchase and maintenance.
(Comment: How far such a measure would become fruitful depends upon how much these taxes will be increased and how much the people can increase their level of earning. If the government increases these drastically, then only the rich people and those who are in a position to ‘increase income’ would be able to purchase the cars. In a democratic county such a measure should be considered as gross injustice).
(02) Banning 20 years’ or older cars.
(Comment: This is childish proposal because those owning such cars would dispose of those and purchase another. This can help the business of the car importers).
(03) Introducing more public bus.
(Comment: The public buses already on road find their business difficult because of additional time required for each trip. At this stage more bus means more traffic jam. On the other hand, as soon as the less efficient vehicles i.e. private cars are eliminated and the bus owners find the trips profitable, it will take place automatically).
(04) Reducing the population of the city.
(Comment: It is an idealistic proposal, nice for the sake of discussion. No one can give concrete suggestions regarding how to do it).
(05) Creating 10 provinces in the country.
(Comment: Prof. Dr. Mahmudun Nabi, MURP Department, BUET believes that Dhaka city’s transport problem will be solved if the entire country can be brought under intense development by creating at least 10 provinces. He is of the opinion that if there can be 50 provinces (by province he in fact meant self-reliant political entities) in USA, why cannot Bangladesh with 14 crores think of 10 provinces ?)
In reply it can be said that in USA so many provinces are required because of the physical extent of the country. In comparison to that Bangladesh is a tiny country. It is however true that, Dhaka city’s population pressure would decrease if the government takes up the program for the development of the entire country. But for that purpose there is no need for going into the costly program of creation of so many provinces. Rather the ‘Upazilla system’ is quite efficient, it has already been tested and the government has accepted as a policy. Now if the elected government maintains reluctance to their declared programs, the people should wait and work for replacing the future elections).
Finding out the solution:
We all know that Dhaka is not livable and one major problem faced by the dwellers here is ‘transportation problem’. We have mentioned that most, if not all of these problems have been created by the city authorities. In our discussion we wanted to say that in case the authorities want to see a ‘livable Dhaka with ease of transport’, they have to rectify their past blunders and deal everything with more intelligence. In such endeavor they can do the following:
Compartmentalisation both in macro and micro scale is a must for keeping the city-traffic manageable. If a considerable number of vehicles of the country for one reason or the other comes inside Dhaka, what will be the situation here ? Also if a large number of cars of the city on any occasion enters in an area (say, Dhanmondi Residential Area) what might happen here?
As a matter of fact no solution by keeping the city open for all the vehicles of the country, or an area, for the vehicles coming from the rest of the city can ever maintain livable environment in point of vehicular jamming.
In such a situation,
(a) In Macro scale, the portion of Dhaka city enclosed by the ring road (also serving as the circular flood protection dam) may be considered as one single compartment in macro-scale. The other areas later annexed to it should be developed as independent compartments. The cars in each of these compartments should have distinctly different license plates and there should be few numbers of controllable gates in each compartment for the entry of vehicles from the others. Finally, there should be arrangement for checking, payment of fees and control mechanism at the gates. The people of the city have the right to be relieved from the additional vehicles, such that their own vehicles can run speedily.
(b) In Micro scale the administrative Wards (of the city corporation) should be redefined as, “a chunk of land physically distinguishable by wide roads on all sides and whose linear extent should not exceed 2 kilometers”. Such defined Wards should be considered as compartment in mini-scale. The vehicular entry to each Ward shall be controlled by operable gates. The city authority would issue permission for various essential services in limited number at normal rates, while others dealing those will be allowed to continue at higher rate. The details of “Re-defined Ward” may be found in the following published papers :
(01) SOME URBAN PROBLEMS IN DHAKA CITY OF BANGLADESH AND PROPOSAL FOR INTRODUCING ‘SERVICE TUNNE’ (SETU) AND ‘PLANNED URBAN RESIDENTIAL AREA’ (PURA) Bijon B. Sarma, Date March 8, 2010 and
(02) ‘DWELLERS-PARTICIPATION BASED ADMINISTRATIVE PLANNING POLICY’ AND ITS APPLICATION IN THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO DHAKA CITY OF BANGLADESH. Bijon B. Sarma, Date: February 21, 2010).
However, relevant section from this paper is quoted below :
“DWELLERS-PARTICIPATION BASED ADMINISTRATIVE PLANNING POLICY (DPAP)”
This is a new concept and has been published in a number of websites including Social Science Research Network (SSRN). The salient features of this proposal are the following :
(a) The city shall be divided into a number of independent or semi-independent units physically marked by broad roads. The length and breadth of the unit shall be 1.5 km to 2.00 km. in order to keep pace with peoples’ walking limit. In each such unit the dwellers will be consulted to opine what type services and commodities they lack in and in which ones they are surplus.
(b) Administrative measures will then be taken for making these units “self-sufficient” and relieved from burdens. The facilities, amenities and services will be determined on the basis of discussion with the dwellers. These may be : (i) Educational institutions (Children’s school, High School etc.). (ii) Commodities (Vegetables-rice-meat shop complex, Grocery, Stationary, Cloth shop etc.), (iii.) Financial institution (Bank, ATM machine etc.), (iv) Healthcare and emergency (General physician, Dentist, Ophthalmologist, Ear Nose Throat specialist, Child specialist, Gymnasium etc.), (v) Maintenance (Repairing shops for domestic appliances and gadgets), (vi) Professionals (Lawyer), (vii) Hostels (independently for male and female students), (viii) Dormitory (independently for working men and women), (ix) Religious facilities (prayer house), (x) Community centre etc.
(c) Because of the democratic nature of the country, there is no scope for the authorities to dictate what type of amenities or services the businessmen would have. It is natural that the businessmen would look for the type of business they find profitable, even if those create concentration of services at one place and scarcity at another. In such a situation the authority would have to proceed indirectly.
(d) Since all of the above facilities will not be available in any unit (elsewhere mentioned as redefined WARD), or excess will be available in some, (like existence of excessive number of schools in Dhanmondi R.A.), the urban authority would take up a policy of sanctioning licenses at usual rate to fixed number of such service and facility providers. Those beyond this number would have to pay tax at much higher rate. In order to avoid monopoly the minimum number of each facility will be 2, where the maximum number may be determined on the basis of local demand. The approval of such facilities would also depend upon their location inside the Ward. If this policy is introduced, for obvious reasons the people’s movement in search of the essential facilities at distances and by using vehicles will be reduced. Also removal of excess facilities from some areas would help to ease traffic congestion.
Even though there is no way to be sure if the above proposal would be able to reduce the number of cars in the city, but definitely it would reduce the frequency of their movement. One positive aspect of this proposal is, it involves no or negligible expenditure on the part of the government. (Web link :
SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1556543, http://ssrn.com/abstract=1476115, )
(02) Lessening cars on road:
We know that more and more bus are required in Dhaka city for the people’s movement. In order to ensure quicker movement of all vehicles including bus, the number of cars should be reduced or the number of their appearance on road be discouraged. We mentioned earlier the various measures proposed by our experts for lessening cars. In our proposal, “the best way to lessen the number of cars plying on road is to make alternate arrangements for those who use cars”.
Whatever comfortable bus may be introduced in the city, a bus can never act as alternate for cars. The difference between the two can easily be understood. By using his car the owner can start his journey at any time right from his door step, move in ways he likes and can reach the exact destination. In bus, he would have to go to certain place to procure ticket, wait for it and then to disembark at location nearest to his destination.
The nearest substitute of car is the ‘taxi’. Men can get it nearest to their place of residence and get down at the destination. When compared with costly cars, the travel in taxi in many cases may be cheaper. While taxi-cab is good for affluent people, the 3-wheel CNG are equally good for the middle income people. In case there were fixed parking places for these vehicles, these were available in adequate numbers and if the authority could bring the drivers under control, many affluent and mid-income families would not be compelled to purchase cars for their and their children’s movement.
In may not be out of place to mention the blunders taken by the previous government, probably in the interest of the politicians. One blunder was to bring the worst type of vehicle from a neighboring country to be used as taxi-cab. Within a period of few years some of those have got the shape that may frighten anyone wishing to ride. The second blunder was to remove the previous single stroke scooters and to fill the vacancy with extremely inadequate number of CNG 3 wheelers.
From the above discussion it is clear that the best way to lessen the number of cars or keep them away from the road is to make alternate arrangements. In the present condition, this can be done by introducing more taxi-cabs and CNG 3 wheelers. In addition, “DUAL USE CARS” can be introduced in the city. The most advantageous side of Dual Use Car (henceforth it will be mentioned as DUC) is, it involves no additional cost for import of vehicles and no additional car would crowd the roads of the city. The only thing needed for its introduction is to make certain rules and regulations. Details of DUC may be seen in the following published paper:
(01) “CONCEPT AND USE OF DUAL-USE CARS IN REDUCING TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN DHAKA CITY OF BANGLADESH”. Bijon B. Sarma, Date : February 27, 2010) and
(02) DHAKA CITY’S TRANSPORTATION PROBLEM : IS THERE ANY SOLUTION ? PROF.BIJON B. SARMA.
Relevant section from the above paper is quoted hereunder :
At present saloon-body cars are used for two different purposes : (01) Private car and (02) Hired taxi. In such a situation “Dual-use cars” will be those which may be used in both ways with respect to time. Thus these may be of two types : (a) Morning Dual-use Car (say, MDC) and (02) Evening Dual-use Car (EDC). There will be indication of MDC or EDC in the license plates.
WHAT THE AUTHORITIES WOULD HAVE TO DO FOR INTRODUCING DUAL-USE CAR (DUC :
(a) The authorities would issue licenses for the DUC’s, where the rate of fee may be in between those of full-fledged taxi and private cars.
(b) Both MDC and EDC will be privately owned cars and the authorities would allow those to run as taxi in one half and private car in the other. The timing may be early 5.00A.M. to 1.00 P.M. (8 hours) and 2.00 P.M. to 10.00 P.M. (8 hours), where the period 1.00 P.M. to 2.00 P.M. shall be common transition time for both.
(c) The owners would be asked to use a hood on top and a taxi-fare meter. The status of the light inside the hood shall indicate its availability as taxi.
(d) The authority would arrange taxi-stands at all suitable locations for these vehicles.
Now we shall discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various concerned parties due to introduction of Dual-use cars.
(i) Owners: The owners of DUC’s would enjoy the movement-benefit in the city for half day and some financial benefit for the other half. This would create some income from it and at the same time, reduce the continual life of the vehicle, or in other words, increase the rate of depreciation. After calculating both internal rate of return and depreciation, it would be economical for the owner.
(ii) Passengers: At present the passengers cannot avail taxi services because (01) their number is too less and
(02) their physical conditions are extremely pathetic. Introduction of DUC would solve both the problems. Earning from the DUC depends upon the rate of fare fixed by the government. However, from rough calculation it may be found out that these cars can maintain profitably at less fare than the full-fledged taxis.
(iii) Drivers: The drivers who at present drive hired taxi endeavors to make maximum trips at the cost of worst use of the vehicle. That is why most of the taxis turn so dilapidated after several years. The driver owning a taxi, or driving company’s taxi need to work hard for optimum earning. There is no guarantee that he would have handsome earning during odd times or dull season. If DUC’s are introduced many of the drivers would work as owner’s driver at one time and as taxi-driver at the other. The job under the owner would give him a guaranteed salary, such that he would not have to be desperate for earning while he works as taxi driver.
(iv) Road efficiency: Even if the number of cars do not decrease after the introduction of the DUC, the passenger carrying capacity of the road will be increased because the cars would carry more passengers in 50% cases.
(v) Cars of the non-resident affluent men: At present affluent persons living in distant cities usually visit Dhaka with their cars for obvious reasons and these cars act as additional load in the city roads. Availability of taxi in the city may discourage them to bring their cars.
(vi) Problem created due to syndication: The city dwellers have experience how few taxi owning companies or drivers’ guild make syndicate and then increase hiring price of vehicles. If DUC is introduced, there shall remain no scope for such trouble making through syndication.
It is the responsibility of the authority to facilitate the journey of the local people who can afford taxi, and also those of the visitors from outside the city and the country. In Dhaka city the authorities can do the same by introducing more taxi-cabs. If this is done, the already congested roads will be further jammed due to the added vehicles. Also importing such cabs may be too unjustified for a poor country that still considerably depends upon the earning of its non-resident wage-earner. The administrative decision for introducing DUC can increase the number of available taxis by manifold without spending a single dollar.
Quite often the authorities express their dismay over addition of average 130 new cars every day. They also think of various ways to stop it. Introduction of more bus, school bus, mono-rail, elevated road, metro etc. are some of their suggestions. Any person with little intelligence would understand that none of these would be able to reduce the number of cars, simply because journey in none of these is comparable with that in owned cars. The only mode of journey nearest to it is the journey by comfortable taxi. The car owners may feel less interested to purchase cars, or use the car frequently only if suitable alternates are available and at less cost. Fortunately DUC’s can fulfill their needs.
(Web links: SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1476115. munawar.staff.ugm.ac.id/wp/dhaka-citys-transport-problem.pdf., www.e-pao.net› education,.SSRN:.http://ssrn.com/abstract=1476115 … papers.ssrn.com/ sol3/ papers.cfm? abstract_id=1476115)
After detail discussion of various aspects of transport problem in Dhaka city we shall present hereunder our recommendations to solve the same.
Macro scale : Various regions will be segregated from the rest in point of vehicular entry, and it must be done through controlled gates.
Micro scale : In micro scale each of the smaller areas or Wards will be independently developed in the principle described in “Redefining Wards”.
(02) Footpath: All footpaths shall be developed for easy walking and carrying wheel-carts. These may be provided with sun-rain protection where possible. There shall be wide and defined zebra-crossing at the road junctions. At the mid-point of every single-run road, there shall be “covered foot over bridge”. The stoppage for shuttle bus and town service bus may be located at these points.
(03) ROADS :
(i)The roads inside the Wards will be like local roads, where the dwellers would deserve the right to say which vehicles can enter and at which time.
(ii) Outside the wards all roads will be city roads. In all possible cases those will be divided by thin (for making vehicular roads wider) inaccessible islands or dividers. Frequent breaks shall be avoided such that the vehicles may not have right turns. The segment of road having no scope of ‘right turn’ shall be treated as ‘single run’.
(iii) Foot over-bridge and bus stoppages shall be established at the mid-point of the ‘single run’. However, care should be taken such that the distance between pedestrian road crossings at the junctions and foot over-bridge does not exceed 1 kilometer. ‘Single run roads’ should be created for the purpose of ensuring higher velocity of the plying vehicles.
(iv) No vehicle for whatsoever reason shall stop within a distance equal to the width of the adjacent road (but minimum 20 feet) from the corner point.
(04) VEHICLES :
(i) BUS, MINI-BUS : There shall be the following types of bus :
(a) Connecting bus (CB): These will be large buses with additional luggage carrier and ply between the entry gates, terminals and important spots of the city. This would carry passengers to terminals for outward journey and vice versa.
(b) Passenger bus (PB): Same as above with no luggage carrier.
(c) Shuttle bus (SB) : These buses would run between important points at a distance, not below 5 kilometers. The buses covering bigger lengths would stop only at such stops and at no other place. In each spot 1 or more empty bus shall keep waiting. During busy hours (say from 7.30 A.M. to 11.00 A.M. and 4.00 P.M. to 6.00 P.M.) these would run in “Full and Go” (i.e. the bus would start as soon it is full) principle. At other time those would run at every half, 1 or 2 hours, depending upon availability of passengers. These will be allowed to stop at minor stoppages also. Depending on the passengers and road width both big bus and mini-bus will be used as shuttles.
(d) Town Service Bus (TSB) : In such bus the rear 4 feet space will be separated from the rest. The passengers shall enter only through the rear door, collect ticket and remain standing. The passengers sitting in the rest area shall disembark through the front door. As soon as any of the seats would fall vacant, the first waiting standing passenger would sit there. The bus would not be allowed to take standing passengers exceeding certain number. The town service buses would travel in important routes and stop at fixed stoppages.
(ii) Tempo: Tempo’s would be allowed to run between the two ends of single-run roads (i.e. the section of roads divided by continuous islands). In such roads ‘tempo-stand’ will be created at 100 feet away in the forward direction from the road junction. These also would run in “Full and Go” principle.
(iii) Taxi and CNG 3-wheeler : The stoppage for taxi-cab and 3-wheeler shall be placed immediately after the tempo stand. These vehicles will be allowed to run both as hired vehicle and shared public vehicle.
(iv) Others: Other vehicles like rickshaw, rickshaw van etc. will be allowed to run only inside the redefined Wards or adjacent Wards.
(05) Drivers: Drivers of Bus, Minibus, Tempo, Taxi, 3-wheeler etc. must have their particulars and photographs registered and recorded in an website. The name, picture and license number of the drivers must remain in public display so long they would remain in the driving seat. In case of accident, irrespective of punishment by the judicial department, the punished driver shall not be allowed to drive any car in the city for a minimum period of one year.
Conclusion: It is a pity that a government with wide successes in many fields are now being cursed almost every day for only one problem faced by the dwellers of the capital city. Even though quite less in number in comparison with the population of the country, the dwellers of the capital city are extremely vocal and to a great extent, powerful. We all know their problem, it is “transport problem”.
As days are going on, both the quantity and quality of education and research are improving. With that we are supposed to get better quality city planners and bureaucrats. The scientists and engineers are helping in manufacturing superior quality vehicles for transportation. Ever increasing awareness of the voters is compelling the politicians to become more accountable to people’s welfare. It is a shame that with all these positive factors, in Bangladesh, we are approaching from bad to worse in point of city’s transportation.
The three powerful agents whose responsibility was to design and construct “a livable and pleasant city” are in fact making a hell out of it. They are:
(01) The planners (with the responsibility of planning and designing the city with foresight),
(02) The bureaucrats (with the responsibility of executing decisions intelligently) and
(03) The politicians (who in fact are in the role of the master of the entire operation).
The blunders, lacking and inefficiency of these agents can be briefly mentioned here :
(01) Planners and designers : In point of efficiency of road they did not know that efficiency depends not upon the permissible velocity of the vehicle, but on its effective velocity, which again depends upon intra-vehicular distance. They also forgot that transport hazard of any city can never be solved by keeping its roads wide open to all the vehicles of the country.
(02) Bureaucrats: It is a pity that in spite of stringent competitive examinations at least some less-intelligent personnel get entry in bureaucracy. We have mentioned a case where someone expressed extreme foolishness by constructing waiting shed for few guardians right on the footpath, which is created for the pedestrians.
(03) Politicians: Since there is no transparent means collecting many for political activities, in our country the politicians, especially those in power, collect the same from corrupt persons. These corrupt persons gain extra benefit by breaking laws or norms, in which case the political leaders help them. Both corrupt personnel and politicians prefer big-budgeted projects like, metro, mono-rail, elevated expressway, import of big bus etc. and the reason is clear. It is shameful that they have extended evil hands in transport sector also. We have mentioned the case of providing inadequate number of taxi-cabs and CNG 3-wheelers, such that the owners/drivers could increase fare by utilizing the scope of scarcity and they could enjoy the share.
In this paper we have mentioned some recommendations (e.g. compartmentalization, redefined wards, dual use cars etc.), which, we find reasons to believe, would be quite helpful in solving, or at least in reducing the acuteness of transport problem. However, the weakest point of these recommendations is, none of these involve big budget. That may be a good reason for the concerned agents to summarily reject these.
Professor Bijon B. Sarma