An internet protocol (IP) camera was installed last week by the police at Gazipur-Chandra intersection for keeping surveillance on highways and ensuring security of people during their travels at the Eid holidays.
Police have so far installed over 20 IP cameras on major highway points across the country for better traffic management. The Inspector General of police (IGP) claimed that the police have become more competent now in ensuring public security through the introduction of modern technology.
However, one wonders as to what will be the role of such cameras. It was stated that use of IP camera would improve the law enforcers' capacity to monitor vehicular movement by coordinating traffic management and solving traffic chaos on highways.
Such cameras will be able to monitor the traffic movement centrally and direct specific areas to positively address the gridlocks. These will also be used to detect criminal activities on the highways in the upcoming days and use them in prosecuting criminals.
Yet in another experiment, automatic traffic signal system was introduced in 2005 at about 70 points with a view to easing the capital's bizarre tailback. But it was mostly abandoned in 2008, as the maintenance and updating of the system's synchronisation proved difficult on the part of the traffic police.
As automated digital signals at most of the points fail to work, traffic rules are being violated at random. Traffic police and sergeants are reluctant to take action against lane violators, illegal parking and obstruction of vehicular movement. Nobody knows what the close-circuit televisions installed at vital intersections of the roads are doing in locating lane-violators.
Existing traffic infrastructure is feared to crumble in the next two years, meaning the capital's traffic system is likely to worsen in the coming days. It is impossible to strictly enforce traffic rules even if the authorities deploy a huge number of policemen, unless new communication infrastructures are developed.
Dhaka city should have 25 per cent of its total area for roads, considering its population. The roads should have at least two lanes and be able to accommodate three types of vehicles -- passenger vehicles, ambulances and fire service vehicles -- side by side. But the city has less than 8.0 per cent of its space for roads, and only 2.5 per cent of those can accommodate those three types of vehicles side by side.
Indeed, during this month of Ramadan, city people's sufferings have multiplied. The bumper-to-bumper traffic has become a regular phenomenon on the main roads in the capital. Traffic department is either indifferent to this issue or has failed to develop any effective mechanism to manage the chaotic situation which is sure to deteriorate ahead of the holy Eid-ul Fitr.
Illegal parking and running makeshift shops on footpaths are the major factors adding to the sufferings of the pedestrians in many areas. Furthermore, monsoon rain creates mud in the areas of the under-construction flyovers. Cashing in on this difficult situation, rickshaw pullers and CNG-run autos are charging extra fares from the hapless passengers.
Commuting through the Mirpur-10 intersection, for example, has become a dreadful experience for people due to long tailbacks on all sides of the roundabouts almost throughout the day and night and during holidays as well. Illegal parking and careless passenger picking and dropping by buses and human haulers almost regularly choke the roads leading to the intersection.
Moreover, hordes of jaywalkers prefer crossing the roads from all directions, risking their lives. Their failure to use the four-way footbridge further slows down traffic movement at the intersection. Although the roads around the roundabout are off-limits to rickshaws, three wheelers regularly crowd the roads, taking advantage of the nonchalance of police.
Kakoli intersection, another major and complex traffic hub of the capital, has become a driver's nightmare due to poor traffic management and jaywalking. The spot, crisscrossed by roads leading to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and Gulshan's diplomatic and commercial zones, experience awful traffic congestion throughout the day. Furthermore, knee-deep water inundates both sides of the heavily used road during rains due to a poor drainage system.
The situation in Old Dhaka is even worse than any other places as traffic jam has become an order of the day at Dholaikhal, English Road, Postagola, Jatrabari, Bangshal, Nayabazar, Urdu Road, Chawkbazar, Moulvibazar, Imamganj, Tipu Sultan Road and Johnson Road.
Most areas of old Dhaka are commercially important, but the roads there are very narrow and separate parking spaces are virtually non-existent. As a result, vehicles arriving from different parts of the city are parked all over, creating gridlocks for all day long. Sometimes there is no respite even at midnight.
A modern city can be a great place to live in, and it can also be a hellhole if it is clogged by traffic jams as Dhaka city is experiencing these days. But some transport analysts say parking and congestion charges can help Dhaka minimise its everyday gridlock.
According to them, introduction of parking charge will not only help the city authorities earn revenue, but also help control traffic. Construction of flyovers, subways and expressways is otherwise expensive. But introduction of such a system will hardly cost any money for the government.
Parking charge through meters can be introduced in the city experimentally, but congestion charge is unlikely to work here because the city does not have enough roads. The reality is different here. On this ground, many say introduction of congestion surcharge will not be a viable option.
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