A cabinet division proposal for separate lane for very important persons and emergency services on roads in Dhaka Metropolitan City areas has drawn criticism from experts and rights activists.
Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority, urban planners and experts have already opposed the recent proposal, saying that public transport system should be strengthened to bring the city traffic under control.
If separate lanes are set up for VIP movement on the existing structures, it will cause total chaos to the city traffic already reeling from severe congestion, they have warned.
Cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam, at the weekly briefing on Monday, told journalists that they had asked Road Transport and Highways Division to evaluate their proposal for separate lanes for VIPs and emergency services.
He cited examples of other countries which have such system.
On December 31, 2017 the cabinet division sent a letter to the RTHD asking for necessary steps for building separate lanes on DMC roads for VIP movement and vehicles used in emergency services including law enforcement agencies, ambulances and fire service as movement of these vehicles are badly hindered by congestion.
The RTHD sent the proposal to the DTCA on January 10 for feasibility study and sought their opinions.
DTCA executive director Syed Ahmed has told New Age that in the current situation there is no space for creating separate lane in the city.
‘If we want to execute the proposal, road have to be extended by demolishing buildings which is not possible,’ he said.
He said they would send their opinions within a few days with some alternative proposals like limited movement of non-motorised vehicles, especially on main roads, and expansion of public transport system to ease traffic congestion and easier VIP movement.
SM Salehuddin, former executive director of the then Dhaka Transport Coordination Board, said that currently there was no scope for executing the proposal due to faulty land use plan in Dhaka.
The system should be introduced in new cities like Purbachal and Jhilmil where the secretariat and other important service offices could be relocated, he suggested.
Sarwar Jahan, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s Urban and Regional Planning department former professor, termed the proposal ‘totally unacceptable’.
‘The execution of the proposal will only deteriorate the situation,’ he warned.
Sarwar, also director of Policy Research Institute, rather demanded separate lane for public buses and rearrangement of existing traffic management system in Dhaka to reduce traffic gridlock.
Work for a Better Bangladesh, Trust programme manager Maruf Hossain alleged that the ‘illogical’ proposal was given to serve the interest of the VIPs only.
‘Dhaka city dwellers are already sufferings daily for VIPs movement while the execution of the proposal will cause disaster,’ he added.
Rights activist Sultana Kamal, at a programme in the capital, alleged that the authorities were doing the politics of division through such moves.
She also said this kind of move could never be taken in any civilised country.
The High Court on October 23, 2014 served show cause notices on the government and the police to explain why they should not be asked to enforce traffic rules strictly to prevent some VIPs and VVIPs from using the wrong side of various streets of Dhaka to avoid traffic congestion.
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