Introduction: Communication is an important aspect of our day-to-day life. And as such, the bad effect of traffic jam can better be understood than described. So movements on the roads and streets must strictly be regulated by certain rules, which we call traffic rules. Vehicles must keep to the left, obey speed limits and should avoid overtaking and follow the traffic signals. If these rules are followed strictly, the vehicles can go on smoothly without causing any traffic jam. But most often than not, there is glaring carelessness about these rules. As a result, the common people pay very dearly for it.
People lose their time on their way for nothing. Sometimes we feel inclined to think that our government and the people at the helm of these affairs are very indifferent to such vital problems. Something positive must be done to relieve the people from such problems. Traffic congestion is a condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queuing. The most common example is the physical use of roads by vehicles. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction between vehicles slows the speed of the traffic stream, congestion is incurred. As demand approaches the capacity of a road (or of the intersections along the road), extreme traffic congestion sets in. When vehicles are fully stopped for periods of time, this is colloquially known as a traffic jam.
Consequences of Traffic jam: At rush hour, a distance of three to four kilometres can take about an hour to reach. Destinations like Gulisthan, Motijheel, Old Dhaka, Maghbazar, Malibagh, Gulshan, Banani and Dhanmondi are nightmares for commuters from any point in the city. Especially frustrating are the points Hotel Sonargaon crossing, the road in front of the Prime Minister’s office, Maghbazar, Mouchak, Malibagh, Khilghaon, Rampura, Elephant Road, Science Laboratory, Green Road, Jatrabari, Sayedabad, Mohakhali and old parts of the city mainly at Dholaikhal, Postagola, Bangshal, Chowkbazar and Imamganj.
People miss important appointments; people are late for work, children and old people fall sick, not to mention the painful site that most of us choose to ignore – a blaring ambulance stuck in the middle of a traffic jam trying desperately to find a way.
The heat released from the engines, especially the private cars that use air conditioners, increase the overall temperature of the city. Continued exposure to pollution from the streets during traffic jams, will have grave consequences in the future health of these people, say experts. The economy, meanwhile, is losing out in millions because of traffic jams. In recent weeks; the government has announced a number of steps to reduce the pressure of traffic in the city. The government plans to initiate a number of measures like informing road users from police control room through ‘traffic radio’ on the state of traffic on different road networks, installing of CCTV sets to monitor traffic movement, restricting road digging activities to night time, and ensuring schools enforce its own transport for student commuting– especially at the primary level.
Also, from September 1, the government cut down the routes on which buses can travel from 138 to 40 to ease the overall traffic in the city. According to experts, however, these are only piecemeal measures that will not make any significant change to the traffic situation.
At present Dhaka has only six to seven per cent road although any major city should have 25 to 30 per cent. Unfortunately, around 60 per cent of the city roads are encroached by hawkers, undesignated parking, and dumping of construction materials. 30 types of motorised and non-motorised vehicles are plying on the same street, causing haphazard traffic jams.
The real hindrance to smooth traffic as experts look at it does not lie in inadequate roads. Dhaka’s unplanned growth, a Dhaka-centric development of the country, the lack of east-west connecting roads, unplanned construction inside the city, increased number of private transports, the lack of mass transit are some of the contributory factors to traffic congestion. At the same time the poor traffic management, increasing population of rickshaws, lack of parking space, pedestrian walkways and reluctance to use of foot over-bridge make travelling on the streets difficult.
With all of this in sight, on August 28, chief adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed launched the Strategic Transport Plan, a 20-year old mega-project for sustainable, safe, and environment-friendly transport and communications system encompassing Dhaka and adjacent districts of Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Gazipur and Manikganj.
Under the plan, the government will construct and reconstruct 330 kilometers of roads and highways including 50 new roads, flyovers, elevated expressways, metro (underground railway), circular waterways, bus rapid transit, rapid mass transit, bus-route rationalization, traffic system development and safe environment.
Reasons for traffic jam: Contrary to popular belief, Dhaka city is a planned city. Patrick Geddes made the first plan during the British rule which was followed by the plan made by the Pakistan government in 1956 and finally the Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan in 1990.
According to the older plans, the Tejgaon Industrial area, the cantonment and most of the rail crossing were constructed outside the city parameters. Unfortunately, they all lie in the heart of the city, at present. Nearly 40 per cent of city space is occupied by campuses of DU, BUET, Jagannath, Dhaka Cantonment, BDR cantonment, the courts, where public transports find very limited space, experts opine.
With mass transport not allowed through BUET and DU it creates excessive pressure on the adjoining roads,’ says one senior police official, ‘also, the judge court and Jagannath University has eat up the most important parts of Old Dhaka,’ he adds. He says, that because of the location of the Press Club at Segunbagicha, a large number of processions, demonstrations start from there causing massive congestion in that busy area.
While relocating some of these establishments may not be feasible any longer, especially since the university campuses have become an integral part of city life, experts believe, that the authorities in these institutions could allow a better flow of traffic during extreme traffic scenarios and the government should develop alternate roads and flyover along these places to smoothen the flow of traffic.
While very little can be done to change the larger picture now, there are a number of smaller factors which aggravate the traffic situation in the city.
The uncoordinated road digging by Dhaka City Corporation (DCC), Dhaka Electric Supply Authority (DESA), Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), Titas Gas and other utility service providers together make reasons for further road congestion, say experts.
The city’s numerous rail crossings and the influx of rickshaws into the capital from different places of the country with the advent of the Ramadan make road traffic stagnant, especially during this time.
Each day around 80 trains enter and exit the city, which causes six hours halt of traffic in total through each level crossing. Such types of level crossing create intolerable congestion at Magbazar, Mohakhali, Staff road, Karwan Bazar and other places.
According to the office of traffic control there are 76,000 licensed rickshaws in Dhaka though the actual figure is above 600,000. ‘An additional 100,000 rickshaws enter the city during Eid just to make additional income,’ says one senior traffic official. Moreover, every year some 30,000 new vehicles are registered. And while officially there are 160,000 motorized vehicles registered, of which 4,800 consist of buses, the unauthorized numbers of vehicles are much higher. Last year, more than 60,000 motorized vehicles were added to the existing number of unregistered vehicles. Among them, nearly 50,000 were found in Dhaka alone.
Although bus counters have been opened by many in the recent past but their unplanned establishments have resulted in the buses occupying road spaces that otherwise are essential for traffic flow. The buses stop randomly to pick up and drop passengers.
Most foot-over bridges and underpasses remain unutilized by the pedestrians reasoning dark and dodgy atmosphere inside as billboards block view from outside. Unhygienic passageways, steep stairs and pathway encroached by hawkers make it difficult to move on the bridge, say pedestrians. Although these all are true, the bottom line of the fact is that people are habituated and thus love using the shortest way by crossing over the street. Now, that it poses risk for the vehicles and create unnecessary traffic block let apart risking the pedestrians’ lives, are not their concern.
Many compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling stations and petrol pumps are located near to the intersections that disturb the streets when large queues of vehicles break into the road. Although there is rule to set up refueling stations having vacant spaces to accommodate thirty vehicles to wait inside the compound, it has been overlooked.
The government is to blame for the chaos when it approves universities, commercial establishments, garment factories, schools, clinics and wholesale kitchen markets at the residential areas that make life mess for those living in the community.
A lot of the plush shopping malls in the city have resulted in illegal road occupation by vehicles. Between Panthapath and Sonargaon intersection the traffic jam at anytime of the day is horrible because of the city’s biggest shopping mall constructed in the area, urban researchers allege. And though the market offers a parking space of 1,200 vehicles, here too the people are habituated and love to park them on the street so that they can come out of the market and drive away fast without having to go down the parking space, pay for the parking ticket and look for the driver.
Officials at the traffic department believe that the fines for traffic violations are too meager to raise fear for the violators. Outside the mall and right beside the road, occupation of tea-stalls and shops make difficult for pedestrians to use the pathway.
We should not establish new commercial establishments in the already congested places. High-rise commercial structures should be built outside city to keep the balance.
Rules and regulation to control traffic jam: To reduce traffic jam we can take some initial steps but beyond this government help and implications of traffic rules and regulations are most important. The initial steps are-
- Have a good public transport system so people would use it
- Ban rickshaw from the main roads of Dhaka
- Good traffic system
- Good lane system
- Traffic police should do their duty properly
- Use zebra cross and foot over bridge
- Respect the law
Traffic managements: There are some ways through which traffic jam could manage or control more or less. They are-
- Traffic reporting, via radio, GPS or possibly mobile phones, to advise road users.
- Variable message signs installed along the roadway, to advise road users.
- Navigation systems, possibly linked up to automatic traffic reporting.
- Traffic counters permanently installed, to provide real-time traffic counts.
- Convergence indexing road traffic monitoring, to provide information on the use of highway on-ramps.
- Automated highway systems, a future idea which could reduce the safe interval between cars (required for braking in emergencies) and increase highway capacity by as much as 100% while increasing travel speeds.
- Parking guidance and information systems providing dynamic advice to motorists about free parking.
- Active Traffic Management system opens up UK motorway hard shoulder as an extra traffic lane, it uses CCTV and VMS to control and monitor the traffic’s use of the extra lane.
- School opening times arranged to avoid rush hour traffic (in some countries, private car school pickup and drop-off traffic are substantial percentages of peak hour traffic).
- Considerate driving behavior promotion and enforcement. Driving practices such as tailgating and frequent lane changes can reduce a road’s capacity and exacerbate jams. In some countries signs are placed on highways to raise awareness, while others have introduced legislation against inconsiderate driving.
- Visual barriers to prevent drivers from slowing down out of curiosity (often called “rubbernecking” in the United States). This often includes accidents, with traffic slowing down even on roadsides physically separated from the crash location. This also tends to occur at construction sites, which is why some countries have introduced rules that motorway construction has to occur behind visual barrier.
- Speed limit reductions, as practiced on the M25 motorway in London. With lower speeds allowing cars to drive closer together, this increases the capacity of a road. Note that this measure is only effective if the interval between cars is reduced, not the distance itself. Low intervals are generally only safe at low speeds.
- Lane splitting/filtering, where space-efficient vehicles, usually motorcycles, scooters, and ultra-narrow cars ride or drive in the space between cars, buses, and trucks. This is however illegal in many countries as it is perceived as a safety risk.
Conclusion: The city’s lone dependency on surface transportation system should be diversified to monorail, metro rail, and elevated expressways. Not only is the economy losing out from the increased cost of fuel but traffic jams sometimes result in deterioration of perishable goods in an existing food crisis. Since our traffic management system is extremely poor, the laws should be updated and monitored carefully and regularly.
There should be a whole “park” to educate on traffic system for the residents and children especially since one of the main reasons for road accidents and drivers not following rules is because of the abundance of fake licenses.
Experts recommend that the most effective solution for our current situation of traffic jam is to construct flyovers at important intersections to reduce traffic congestion.
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 . Government officials estimate a loss of around Tk 15,000 crore annually because of traffic jams.
 The red signal violation fine is only Tk 250 and illegal parking is only Tk 200.