Traffic jam now seems beyond control as it frequently clogs the port city of Chattogram despite repeated moves by the traffic department and other concerned agencies.
‘There is no single body to tackle the traffic system of the port city. So, a separate traffic management department is a must to manage the traffic of the port city,’ said Chattogram City Corporation chief town planner AKM Rezaul Karim.
He told New Age that the city corporation had a transport standing committee but there was no traffic management department. At present separate traffic management department was very essential, he argued.
The corporation installed traffic lights, repaired some at certain crossings, but the move was futile since no steps were taken to bring discipline on the roads, he observed.
‘Signaling lights will be of no use if non-motorised and motorised vehicles use the same lane for movement. Coordination is the key. Coordination among the concerned agencies is important to end the sufferings of the city dwellers,’ he added.
Usually people blamed traffic department for traffic congestion but they were not aware that traffic department of Chattogram Metropolitan Police was not the agency responsible for the city’s management. CMP enforced the traffic laws, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority was assigned to supervise vehicles fitness, issue license, Chattogram Development Authority prepared Strategic Transport Master Plan and constructed new roads and flyovers, Chattogram Port Authority was another stakeholder, since everyday hundreds of trucks and trailers of the port plied the city roads, the duty of city corporation was to coordinate among all these agencies, he pointed out.
In developed countries, they promoted public transport instead of private transport. But in this country the number of private cars had been increasing daily. Instead of public transport facilities, private vehicles were prioritised here and the result was absolute anarchy on the roads, he contended.
‘We need to make the footpaths pedestrian-friendly so that a huge number of people can use it comfortably. As per the rules of architecture and planning department, footpaths should be constructed in such a way that primary school students will go to their respective schools on foot and come back home on foot. There must be sufficient dustbins, public toilets and ramps in the footpaths,’ he said.
In different parts of the city, hawkers and vendors occupied most of the city roads which also needed to be addressed. Unfortunately the number of kitchen market did not increase with the increase in population. If there were more kitchen markets like Karnaphuli kitchen market and Kazir Dewri kitchen market, hawkers would not have sat on the periphery, occupying the footpaths. City dwellers were depended on the hawkers and vendors of their locality for purchasing necessary goods. So the government needed to provide subsidy to the genuine hawkers, he argued.
The chief town planner said that lack of school transport and parking facilities had been contributing to the gridlock as the vehicles carrying school students were parked on the thoroughfares in front of different schools in the port city.
‘The students usually come to schools by cars, or those who have no private cars, usually use CNG-run auto-rickshaws and rickshaws. So every day, before and after school hours, office goers, commuters face a war-like situation on the road to reach their destinations and traffic polices were seen struggling and yelling at unruly drivers to control the traffic. This is the common scenario of the port city,’ he said.
Sometimes, roads were so chaotic that office-goers, patients, students, and other commuters remained stranded for hours in areas where the schools are situated, he added.
In the port city, Jamal Khan area is considered a ‘school and coaching area’. The zone alone has at least 14 educational institutions are located in a row. They include Dr Khastagir Govt Girl’s High School, Shah Waliullah Institution, Jamal Khan Kusum Kumari Girls High School, AG Church School, Haji Mohammad Mohsin Government High School, Chittagong Victory National School, Kadam Mobarak Govt Primary School, Blooming Tree school, Red Rose Kindergarten School, Krishnachura School, Saleh Johur City Corporation High School, Saint Joseph Tutorial, Kirwatul Kurwan Nurani Madrasa, Vivekananda Bidyaniketon, Saint Mary’s School and Chittagong Ideal School and College are located in Jamal Khan area.
Traffic Department of Chittagong Metropolitan Police and Chattogram City Corporation issued several notices to the schools for several times to provide transport facilities to their students to ease gridlock but none paid any heed, said the architect.
Lastly, the chief town planner laid emphasis on formation of a separate transport management department.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Interview