Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s Accident Research Institute director and civil engineering department Professor Md Mizanur Rahman told New Age that government institutions were more interested in pursuing projects instead of developing problem-solving system for management of traffic signal digitally in Dhaka.
He also said that traffic signals could be made effective in the capital following low-cost solutions but these initiatives were being neglected.
Among other reasons, one important fact was that traffic signals were rendered ineffective ever since the law enforcers had managed to preside over Dhaka traffic, he added.
‘In our country different government institutions are more interested in pursuing projects instead of developing a system,’ said Mizanur Rahman, adding, ‘Some people become fortunate when a project is initiated.’
He explained that some projects gave solutions while most were ineffectual.
‘If we develop a system for the traffic signals then the existing problem will be addressed fully,’ he said.
‘At present we are violating laws intentionally as we regularly run on roads defying the red signals as traffic police allow us to pass,’ the professor said, adding that such a practice made people habituated to disobey the laws.
About a common observation of people that traffic police want to control traffic manually instead of using traffic signals to facilitate VIP movement, he said this was one of the reasons among many others behind the current ineffectiveness of signals on city roads.
He said that the existing traffic signals were designed by foreigners who were unaware of the traffic situation.
Local experts should be involved at the level planning and designing as they knew about the local conditions, he said.
‘Local experts can suggest low-cost solution but the authorities are interested only in big projects instead of taking problem-solving approach to the issue,’ Mizanur Rahman said.
Currently in the capital’s volume capacity of traffic on roads crossed the limit and that was a major reason behind the failure of traffic signal system.
‘In Dhaka, at any intersection when vehicles on one road are allowed to go, the rest of the three roads become clogged with vehicles queuing up and waiting to cross the intersection, this is unquestionably due to the excessive number of vehicles on roads, he explained.
He observed that, in the city, traffic signals were situated close to one another — sometimes between 200 metres and 500 metres. ‘The entire city becomes clogged as tailbacks beginning at the intersections stretch across the length and breadth of the city,’ he added.
‘It is not possible to use the traffic signals with the existing road network which has to be expanded,’ the professor suggested.
In other countries traffic gridlocks were seen at the signal points at certain times, but in Dhaka roads were always packed with vehicles due to huge difference between the supply of road network and the demand of the road users, he continued.
‘That is why traffic signals did not work even after so many attempts. And these attempts will continue to fail for the absence of new roads and network,’ he said.
Mizanur Rahman said that a suggestion was put forth from the institution to the traffic police for using remote control traffic with the existing signals instead of manual operation.
Currently traffic police use walkie-talkies for getting information of traffic on different roads and then manually control the traffic, he said.
Under the proposed remote control-based system, traffic police would manage traffic with the light signals by using the remotes, he said.
For smooth traffic movement the authorities would also have to consider the unrestricted flow of traffic on all roads since it was difficult to find space for making new roads in the capital, he also said.
‘If we continue to manage Dhaka traffic using hand signals then it would create a negative impression on visitors,’ he said.
Lastly all people have to follow traffic rules in a disciplined way for making the traffic signals effective, he concluded.
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