Tuesday, 30 May, 2023

Traffic Management and a Liveable, Safe Mega City

Sakib Hasan

Traffic Management and a Liveable, Safe Mega City
Sakib Hasan

For the development of a modern mega city, smooth management of traffic flow is a precondition which overrides many other primary makings in this respect. Managing the innumerable moving wheels on the roads in a desired fashion is obviously a mounting challenge and facing this challenge effectively and efficiently is an integral part of smooth management of the traffic. Since our life is increasingly getting motorised and mechanised and that the living locations of the humans are rapidly getting urbanised, traffic management is not a confined concept; it is rather an open-ended and all-encompassing phenomenon. With this immediate reality in effect, the scopes and the dimensions of traffic management have increased manifold.

The speed of modern life is customised by nanotechnology. So, each and every moment has to be accounted for in an effectively workable way. Saving time to the limit is specifically the point which is why traffic management in the planning of new millennium cities plays an overriding role. However, traffic management of the world’s top ten mega cities do not pose the same scenario since all it depends on the infrastructural planning and development of the city concerned.

For instance, unplanned and chaotic infrastructural expansion of Mexico City is evidently a compelling cause of severe traffic congestion there. On the other hand, mega cities like New York, Los Angeles and a few others manifestly maintain almost a zero-congestion profile in controlling the flow of traffic on the roads. These cities rigidly follow Active Traffic management (ATM) which refers to the application of high technologies (computers, communications and electronics) in traffic management policy. As a part of this policy, these cities have made huge investment for switching the entire traffic management system to Adaptive Traffic Signal Control.

Compared to the global standard mega cities, the biggest cities of Bangladesh like Dhaka and Chittagong are far from being mega cities in the real sense of the term. Still in the context of Bangladesh, traffic management of these two cities especially in Dhaka poses a horrifyingly disappointing scenario. Instead of being even a semi-automated one, the traffic management of Bangladeshi cities are neither digital nor analogue. Rather, it is a hybrid type of management hardly serving anybody’s purpose. It is true that there are traffic signal lights on many of the streets and roads but it is truer that many have gone out of order since long. It is one of the predominant criteria of being a modern digitalised mega city that all major installations and public-service outlets have to be updated on time.

According to a recent survey published simultaneously both by a private firm and an NGO working on road safety, 88 per cent road accidents in Bangladesh occur due to traffic mismanagement in the cities, especially in our capital city Dhaka. Uncountable number of seminars and symposiums has been held and is still being held regarding the urgency of traffic discipline in the city roads and streets but little tangible improvement of the existing traffic mess has been felt yet. Most shockingly, even the rescue operations and works during the fire accidents and other disasters are seriously obstructed by blatant inability of the traffic police department in effectively managing the road crowds and helping to facilitate the easy and smooth access of the rescuers to the spots.

In no way a mega city is a cosmetic panorama of a dazzlingly colourful view. It is neither a ramblingly sprawling arcade of high rise concrete jungles nor a free-wheeling movement of the aggressive traffic. In fact, a true mega city is a strictly disciplined and smoothly manageable one so far as all possible civic facilities and utilities are available to the optimum. Without fulfilling this minimum requirement, no city can claim to be a mega city and if any city ever makes such a high-sounding claim, it will simply sound like an empty rhetoric: A mega city by all judging parameters a maximum hassle-free liveable city. Is our capital city is such an ideal mega city if compared to most of the European, Australian, American or even many Asian mega cities?

First and foremost, a mega city has to be a planned and patterned city where all infrastructures, installations and utility services have to be arrayed in a superbly disciplined form and format. Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) entrusted with the onerous responsibility of making the plan of developing the city itself has gone haywire. Hundreds of high rise illegal structures appeared on government properties either by encroaching riverbanks or on the properties of many government organisations purchasing RAJUK’s certificates. It is hardly expected of RAJUK to get a disciplined city from a grossly undisciplined organisation like it. Population and buildings of Dhaka are increasing at a geometric rate totally disregarding plans and restrictions which is why the potential spaces for expanding Dhaka’s roads are being squeezed shockingly.

Dozens of people are being killed on the crammed and congested streets and roads of the capital city almost everyday mainly because of the flagrant traffic indiscipline as well as shockingly outdated performing incapability of the undermanned traffic police department. Demand for safe roads has already transformed into a social campaign. Everybody of us is now potentially a hapless victim of road accidents anywhere in Bangladesh and especially in the capital city. The typically unending anarchic trail of jammed traffic on Dhaka roads has already earned for itself the notoriety of being the traffic capital of the world.

The traffic management mechanism of Dhaka has to be overhauled immediately with a view to giving fast-track modernisation the topmost priority. The entire capital city has to be brought under digital-signalling system. Manpower of the traffic police has to be doubled to cope with the ever-increasing population and far more increasing number of moving vehicles. The typical role of the traffic police has to be switched to a modern set-up making this vital law-enforcing body capable to clear not only the jammed vehicles but also to play effectively pro-active and people-friendly role in dispersing disturbing crowds as we have seen in the fire holocaust of FR Tower.

Total management of the traffic has to be brought under the central command of a body whose members have to be inducted from related stake-holding organisations including the representatives of the common people. Most importantly, zero tolerance will have to be shown towards any defaulters and the culprits irrespective of their identities will have to be brought to book. Last but not least, an all-out social campaign in favour of traffic discipline has to be launched through using both social and print media for a relentlessly long period of time.


The writer is an Assistant Professor of English, Bogura Cantonment Public School & College