The Chattogram city has been through a rapid urbanization in the last one or so decade and in many ways it has impacted the quality of life. The fact that the port city had gone through development without following any plan can easily be linked to the root cause of traffic congestion, said Chattogram Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner traffic (north) Haroon-ur- Rashid Hazaree.
He told New Age that there was no country in the world where the port is situated in the main city. Everyday thousands of goods-laden heavy vehicles enter and leave the port using the same road used by the city dwellers.
Though the number of population and transport increased over the years, the number of bus or truck terminals necessary to cope with the situation had not been developed yet. Compared to the spiraling number of private cars, the number of parking spaces, petrol pumps and roads now seemed inadequate, he said.
Unplanned development, lack of enforcement of the existing laws of the concerned agencies, absence of terminals for city buses as well as long-route vehicles, violation of traffic rules by drivers, the habit of parking vehicles on roads and intersections randomly, an increase in the number of vehicles, road digging for development works and construction of the flyovers — all this compound the situation in the port city, leading thereby to severe traffic congestion.
According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, around 1,70,000 vehicles ply in the port city every day. The number of traffic police was also extremely insufficient compared to the number necessary to tackle the situation. It was always difficult for one or two traffic police to control traffic congestion at any specific point, he pointed out.
‘There are hundreds of commercial buildings from GEC Circle to Bohoddarhat area of the port city but none has underground parking facilities. Though in the design which they submitted for approval there were spaces for parking, none has this facility in reality,’ he explained.
It was the duty of CDA to monitor and enforce the law and they had their magistrate to run drives to check the violation of the building code. But CDA was not performing its duty. As a result a huge number of private cars remained parked on the road, blocking a major portion of the main road causing huge traffic congestion, he said.
Haroon-ur-Rashid hastened to add that it was very unfortunate that sometimes when traffic police towed a car for roadside parking drivers ask to show them the nearby parking space where they could park their vehicles.
If the concerned agencies could enforce their laws by their magistrates it would help a lot, he said, adding that they needed to stop allowing people to establish and run road side schools that lacked parking facilities.
‘I have recommended the educational institutions to provide mandatory transport facilities for the students. For example, 90 percent students of BAWA and Chittagong Grammar School are from rich families. If they can provide bus which has the capacity for 50 students, it can also ease traffic as 50 cars for 50 students will not block the road in peak hours,’ he explained.
CMP issued notices to the schools either to provide transport facility to the students or to provide parking space for the private vehicles. They had sat for discussion with the school management but no fruitful result followed since the school authority simply did not consider the issue seriously, he added.
‘Will power is also important to bring changes. The main problem is unplanned development,’ said Haroon-ur-Rashid.
There was no participation of traffic department in policy making. There were four flyovers in Chattogram but few are used by people, he said.
Not only the participation of traffic department was important, but also the opinion of the users — mainly city dwellers — could have added some new values to the plan. Before setting up such things as flyover, opinion poll would have given a clearer direction, he continued.
The old railway station of Chattogram, which had been built during the British period, its parking space was so wide that numerous cars could be parked easily. Just opposite the station, the area called Riaz Uddin Bazaar was so congested that during the day they needed light to carry on with their works, he said.
He further observed that CMP traffic department had been trying their level best to serve the city dwellers despite limitations.
‘Still, traffic management continues to be taken care of manually in the port city. But if the corporation could manage the signaling system, it would save time. CMP traffic department doesn’t have any allocation for installing signal lights or their maintenance. A good number of traffic cops remain busy in controlling the traffic movement manually till late night every day,’ he said.
Tiger pass and GEC areas were two of the busiest roads of Chattogram. There were four constables and two sergeants per shift for traffic management on these two roads. If they became busy filing a case against any driver, 10 other vehicles could drive away easily, he observed.
Haroon-ur-Rashid Hazaree said that traffic department lack adequate manpower and at present they were getting a meager 30 percent allowance which must be increased.
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