The transport sector of Bangladesh consists of a variety of modes. The country being a flat plain, all three modes of surface transport, i.e. road, railway and water are widely used in carrying both passengers and cargo.
Transport is an important part of Bangladesh’s economy. Since the liberation of the country, the development of infrastructure has progressed rapidly and a number of land, water and air transport modes exist. However, significant progress must be made to ensure uniform access to all available transport. Unlike other nations, Bangladesh has four ministries responsible for transportation in the country:
- Road safety – Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges
- Rail transport – Ministry of Railways (Bangladesh)
- Civil aviation – Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism
- Maritime transport – Ministry of Shipping (Bangladesh)
The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges has two divisions: Bridges and Road Transport and Highways.
Road transportation dominates the transport systems providing passenger services and transportation of commodities in the urban area. Road transport system is the main means for carrying passengers and commodities within the city. Rail and water transport systems are mainly used by commuters and for transporting commodities. By virtue of being surrounded by the rivers, water transport played significant role in early age both inside and periphery of the urban areas. Navigability in the dry season has deteriorated over the years due to urbanization and siltation in the riverbed. However, in the monsoon season water transport is playing a significant role in transporting commodities and passengers.
Types of Vehicles operating in the City and its Growth
The metropolitan area of the city has several precincts – old city, newly developed areas, developing areas, satellite towns etc. with their own characteristics including social and cultural tradition and income disparity. These lead to a variation of demand (or transport services and subsequently prolife rate different types of vehicles. The bottom income group mostly depends on the low cost transportation including non-motorized vehicles.
The development of mass transit was limited to bus operation, which has failed to cope with the rapidly increasing demand for transportation in the metropolis. The government own public transport (bus operation) deteriorated steadily both in quality and quantity since its formation in the pre-independence era because of management and maintenance problems. The private sector bus operators also were unable to provide required public transport facilities due to fragmentation of ownership, lack of coordinated control, poor maintenance, traffic congestion, and excessive overcrowding etc. causing undue wear and tear and premature failure.
In order to meet growing transport demand of the middle-income and low-income group of the metropolis, both motorized and non-motorized Para transit as an inevitable alternative proliferated in the city. Auto-rickshaw, two-stroke three-wheeler, with seating capacity of 3 passengers rapidly expanded in 1980s and Tempo with 8-10 seating capacity came into operation in the latter half of the decade. In the first half of 1990s, Tempo mode expanded rapidly at the rate of more than 100 percent per annum and the expansion of the three-wheeler Auto-rickshaw operation become slower. With further growth of population including floating population and sprawling of the city with increased commercial activities and growth of secondary and tertiary industries, the demand for transport was accelerating at a very high rate while the public transport system (bus operation) could hardly be developed. In this context, Para-transit penetrated deeply and quickly in the public transport system. A convoy of small passenger vehicles, four-stroke four-wheeler, with passenger capacity ranging from 10 to 15 started coming in operation from the beginning of the last decade.
The economically well off city dwellers have their own vehicles including car, jeep, station wagon, microbus as means of their transportation. It is revealed from the transport registration department that on an average about 5000 cars and 1600 microbuses per annum are entering into city. There is a declining trend of registration of Auto-rickshaw and Tempo in the metropolis due to discouraging policy of the government.
Number of Registered Motor Vehicles In Bangladesh (Year wise)
Serial no Type of Vehicles Upto-2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Jan-14 Grand
1 Ambulance 2506 287 219 181 243 37 3473
2 Auto Rickshaw 108436 18327 20423 23545 15697 1247 187675
3 Auto Tempo 13977 289 175 626 395 10 15472
4 Bus 26016 1762 1761 1439 1107 62 32147
5 Cargo Van 2911 611 489 282 687 142 5122
6 Covered Van 3760 1898 2354 1421 2271 256 11960
7 Delivery Van 15564 1499 1004 774 894 63 19798
8 Human Hauler 5846 674 1152 715 385 9 8781
9 Jeep(Hard/Soft) 8781 2124 2134 1569 1314 117 37420
10 Microbus 59404 6975 4051 3044 2537 215 76226
11 Minibus 24749 895 276 249 148 12 26329
12 Motor Cycle 650147 109110 114616 101588 85808 8956 1070225
13 Pick Up
(Double/Single Cabin) 23273 8967 10460 7625 6553 549 57427
14 Private Passenger
Car 196870 22960 12950 9224 10472 893 253369
15 Special Purpose
Vehicle 5900 471 396 226 227 25 7245
16 Tanker 2379 327 317 195 226 14 3458
17 Taxicab 44361 19 75 172 51 7 44685
18 Tractor 16855 3745 5200 3494 1885 59 31238
19 Truck 73336 9535 7327 4335 5129 574 100236
20 Others 934 383 7 1 1080 111 2516
TOTAL 1307386 190858 185386 160705 137109 13358 1994802
Consumption of Fuels
A survey on fuel consumption by the small passenger vehicles operating in the Dhaka city has been carried out during the month of June and July 2002 by South South North project. The survey has been carried out on 171 small passenger vehicles having different brand names such as Tempo, Maxi, Navana, Laguna etc., with different seating capacities ranging from 12 to 16 passengers. The survey result revealed that some of the small passenger vehicles are gasoline driven and some are diesel driven. The average fuel consumption per kilometer varies with the types of vehicles ranging from 4.5 to 9.0 km/litre.
Utilization of Capacity
It was found that the seating capacity utilization of small passenger vehicles varies from about 70 to 85 percent. The small passenger vehicle “Niloy” has reported the highest utilization of its capacity, which is about 86 percent.
There has been a dramatic expansion of road network all over the country in recent years. In 1947 there were only 461.8 kilometers of metal led roads. In 1997, the total length of paved road under the Roads and Highways Department stood at more than 20,000 kilometers. The road transport carries about 70% of the country’s total passenger and cargo. Bangladesh is a reverie country. So in past days, main transportation was through water. But in recent years, Construction of a number of important bridges over the mighty rivers such as the Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge, Meghna Bridge. Meghna-Gumti Bridge, Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge, Shambhuganj Bridge and Mahananda Bridge have been completed. The 4.8 km long Bangabandhu Bridge is the eleventh longest in the world over the Jamuna River. It has established a strategic link between the East and the West of Bangladesh. Especially north Bengal is now strongly connected with the main stream of the country. It is faci1itating transmission of electricity, natural gas and the telecommunication links. The Rates of Road transport in Bangladesh is one of the cheapest in the world. The Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) also maintains a countrywide network of bus services, Dhaka – Calcutta – Dhaka direct daily bus services via Benapole, Jessore.
2.5 Bangladesh Railway
Bangladesh Railway, a principle transportation agency of the country, is a Government –owned and Government –managed organization. It covers a length of 2,855 route kilometers employing a total of 34,168 regular employees. As railway is a very important mode of inland transport, linking the entire length and breadth of the country, its healthy grow naturally contributes to the economic development of the country.
About two-thirds of Bangladesh has a dense network of rivers, canals and creeks. Water transport is the only way in nearly 10% of the country. The waterways vary from 8372 kilometer during the monsoon to 5200 kilometer during the dry season. State-owned BIWTC provide passenger and cargo services in waterways within the main land and coastal areas of the country. There are two major sea ports in Bangladesh. Chittagong, the oldest port( at least 1000 years) and The Mongla port in Khulna region. The country has also communication between the mainland and islands by waterways. Because of Bangladesh’s many rivers, ferries are a major form of transportation.These ferries carries people and cargo. Many types of traditional country made boats are also used for transportation. The landscape of Bangladesh is dominated by about 250 rivers and so these carry passengers and merchandise on a large scale. Journey by Steamer from Dhaka (Sadarghat) to Khulna Sundarbans will be a rocky experience.
Bangladesh can be reached by air from any part of the world. The national flag carrier Biman of Bangladesh flies to 26 international and 8 domestic destinations. Biman Bangladesh airlines connected Dhaka with 27 major cities of the world. They are- London, Muscat, Dhahran, Baghdad, Kuwait, Yangoon, Bangkok, Mumbai, Calcutta, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Karachi, Kathmandu, Kualalumpur, Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Athens, Rome, Tripoli, Tokyo, Singapore, Baharin, Frankfurt, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Sarjah, Seoul, Riyadh and Delhi. Biman, Bangladesh Airlines also connected Dhaka with major cities of Bangladesh, Chittagong, Jessore, Cox’s Bazar, Rajshahi Saidpur and Sylhet in its 7 domestic routes.There are total 11 airports in Bangladesh. These are Dhaka, Barisal, Chittagomig.Comilla, Cox’s Bazar, Ishurdi, Jessore, Rajshahi, Syedpur, Sylhet and Thakurgaon.
Bangladesh has an amazing range of vehicles – on any highway you can see buses, cars, trucks, rickshaws, baby taxis, tempos (oversized auto-rickshaws), tractors with trays laden with people, motorbikes, scooters, bicycles carrying four people, bullock and water-buffalo carts, and bizarre home-made vehicles all competing for space. One local favourite in rajshahi division is a sort of minitractor powered by incredibly noisy irrigation pump motors.
In Dhaka and Chittagong motorised transportation has increased tremendously over the last 10 years, and traffic jams in Central Dhaka are a nightmare. The problem continues to be due more to rickshaws than cars, and Dhaka has to be the only place on the planet where you can get caught up in a snarling hour-long traffic jam consisting entirely of rainbow-coloured bicycles and cycle-rickshaws.
What freaks out new arrivals the most is the total chaos that seems to pervade the streets, with drivers doing anything they please and pedestrians being the least of anybody’s worries. Accidents do happen and sometimes people are killed, but the odds of your being involved are still fairly slim.
Where possible it can be wise to negotiate fares beforehand to avoid hassles at the other end, though you will be surprised at how often people don’t overcharge you on principle. If you are hassled, a good strategy is to keep the discussion going long enough for a crowd to form, which won’t be long. This crowd of strangers is something of a people’s court, and more often than not is an impressively fair adjudicator. Once deliberations are over and the court has handed down its verdict, the honorable thing for both parties to do is graciously acquiesce.
In Bangladesh three-wheeled auto-rickshaws are called baby taxis. As with the rickshaw-wallahs, baby-taxi drivers almost never own their vehicles. They’re owned by powerful fleet-owners called mohajons, who rent them out on an eight-hour basis. Also like rickshaws, they’re designed to take two or three people, but entire families can and do fit.
In Dhaka and Chittagong baby taxis are everywhere – most people use these instead of regular taxis. Faster and more comfortable than rickshaws on most trips, baby taxis cost about twice as much. You’ll also find them at Dhaka and Chittagong airports and they charge less than half the taxi fare, but the ride into town from either airport is long and not ideal after a tiring long-haul flight. Outside of these two metropolises, baby taxis are much rarer. In towns such as Rangpur, Dinajpur and Barisal they virtually don’t exist.
This is a larger version of a baby taxi, with a cabin in the back. Tempos run set routes, like buses, and while they cost far less than baby taxis, they’re more uncomfortable because of the small space into which the dozen or so passengers are squeezed. On the other hand, they’re a lot faster than rickshaws and as cheap or cheaper. Outside Dhaka and Chittagong they’re a lot more plentiful than baby taxis – you will find them even in relatively small towns.