Emphasis on infrastructure alone won’t improve traffic

Published: 00:00, Dec 09,2019


THE transport sector appears to have been the most happening scene, with a number of flyovers having been built and opened to the public for a few years now, the metro rail system lines being constructed and having been planned, and the establishment of multimodal transport hubs already having been under way. The government has plans to build five multimodal transport hubs, one each at the Dhaka railway station and the Dhaka airport and two each at the Mohakhali and the Gabtali bus terminal in the capital city and another one in Narayanganj, as New Age reported on Sunday. Under the plan, the Dhaka railway station will first be transformed into a multimodal transport hub to provide seamless connectivity for people, having bus terminals, metro rail connectivity and stands for vehicles to facilitate the movement of passengers across modes of transport. Such establishments are necessary, now or in future, for a metropolitan city such as Dhaka to make movement across modes of transport smooth for passengers. But an emphasis only on transport infrastructure hardly seems to be working to improve traffic in the capital city. The government should have an adequate focus on transports and traffic as well as laws and regulations that govern the transport sector.

The Road Transport Act 2018, which came into force on November 1 more than 13 months after it was enacted in September 2019, ran into a decidedly lax enforcement for about two weeks. Road transport workers had then been on strike for a few days, apparently consequent on which the government later decided to give transport owners and workers until June of the next year to have their licences readied and other issues mended. Law enforcers now apply the law in a limited manner, as New Age reported on Saturday, with cases being filed over ‘serious violations’ such as wrong-lane driving, driving on the footpath, driving without licences and vehicles running with no or expired documents. Cases are also filed in cases of accidents and extortion keeping to the Penal Code. But cases of drivers having no proper licences and vehicle modification and overload are overlooked for now. The Highway Police is also reported not to be filing any cases as the rules required for the enforcement of the law have yet to be framed. But drivers having improper licences running modified or overload vehicles having valid licences along the designated lane could also be as much dangerous. A partial enforcement of the law does not make the road safe either for passengers or for pedestrians.

The government appears to have done a patch work as some offences have been enlisted in the schedule of the mobile court law but some other offences that entail heavier punishment could not be enlisted in the schedule of the mobile court law as they fall beyond the purview of the mobile court. Such a situation warrants that the government must immediately frame the rules required for the enforcement of the road transport law as 13 months have already gone by after the enactment of the law. The government must have focus on transport infrastructure as it is important, but the government must also put in efforts to discipline traffic on the road.

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