Traffic terror |
Thinker, On e-mail
It seems that an angel was finally able to administer a dose of magic potion and the authorities/planners are finally waking up and talking about some realistic and sensible solutions to the mammoth traffic problem at hand. Last week came the news that the Shonargaon road from Tongi Diversion intersection is being extended to connect Biswa road; then came the news of a new road from Rangs Bhaban to Tongi diversion road and the last and the best news was, getting rid of the Shonargaon and the Shahbag circles! We must congratulate the authorities concerned for doing something that they should have done a long time ago! Better late than never, we must say. I would like to raise a few pertinent questions and make some comments relating to the planned improvements and would welcome readers comment as a constructive engagement towards reaching the best possible solutions for Dhaka city.
With regard to the proposed extension of the roads from Tongi diversion road to Biswa road and Rangs Bhaban to Tongi diversion road, I foresee lot of the road works involving low lying marshland (old Hathir Jheel) which is an environmentally sensitive site and most essential as a water retaining body during the monsoon season to avoid flooding. Ideally, the roads could be built with keeping canals on both sides to keep the waterways intact and flowing into a larger water body downstream. Canals on both sides could be designed in such a way to offer public leisure and enjoyment like the Dhanmondi lake development project for example, if not better. With regard to the road from Rangs Bhaban, it was mentioned that land on both sides of the Rangs Bhaban would be acquired and two separate roads around it joined further down will be built, keeping Rangs Bhaban in the middle. Without meaning any loss or harm to any one, has the authorities considered building a road straight across, relocating the Rangs Bhaban and offering them alternative site and compensation? It might be a cheaper and a better alternative. How on earth the Rangs Bhaban was allowed to be built in its present location defies logic! On the Shonargaon circle removal, since it is not an ideal crossroad (one road cutting across another), existence of the Sunderban Hotel/Eastern Plaza road will prove to be a special challenge for the planners.
Shabag crossing would be a standard situation. However, the road from the museum to TSC and beyond will pose a problem in terms of the unpredictable nature of the Dhaka University situation. Most of the time it is being barricaded for student disturbance of one kind or the other. To derive maximum benefit, the authorities once and for all should take the decision to keep this all important road open at all times, which can carry lot off traffic all the way to the High Court crossing and beyond without putting pressure on the Shihu Park road contributing to unnecessary traffic load and congestion. Needless to say, authorities must be vigilant and take the responsibility of maintaining law and order and providing security against loss or damage to vehicles or property due to student or any other agitation at all times.
While on the subject, I definitely would not like to forget another problem area, which is the dead end of the Mohakhali road from the rail crossing at Jahangir Gate (Cantonment). I had written about this issue earlier and needless to say, this road must be extended all the way to the Mirpur side through the old airport; if necessary by building an underpass beneath the existing runway. I believe such a project was discussed and approved by the past government. This would relieve congestion on the VIP road as most of the Mirpur traffic and some of the Dhanmondi/Mohammadpur/Shaymoli traffic going towards Tejgaon/Mohakhali and similarly traffic from Gulshan/Banani/ Baridhara going to Mirpur make use of this road at Rangs Bhaban intersection.
It was mentioned in the DS article today that Executive Engineer of Dhaka Urban Transport Project confirmed that to build underpasses or underground grade separators are much cheaper than building flyovers and the numbers mentioned by him and the cost savings are mind boggling! My humble request to the authorities, please follow the most cost effective route to save scarce resources of the nation. By doing so, we shall be in a position to finance more projects to solve more of the Dhaka city traffic problems.
I refer to the news published in The Daily Star on August 7, 2003 about the decision of the DTCB to remove the traffic circle at Sonargaon and subsequently at Shahbag and Matswa Bhavan. I commend the DTCB for such worthy decision which was long overdue. I thank them for understanding the dilemma of the roundabouts and their contribution in hindering smooth vehicular movement. I remember, once, while an international cricket match was being played at our stadium, and during breaks while the TV camera was zoomed on a nearby traffic circle, probably the Zero Point, the visiting overseas Cricket Commentator ridiculed our way of traffic management observing the vehicles being trapped round the circle. Myself a daily commuter at the Sonargaon Crossing, often wondered at the hindrance the SAARC Fountain had created for the traffic. I was very much shocked to learn that the fuel consumed for delaying at the Sonargaon Crossing costs Tk. 7.6 crore a year and no doubt the opportunity cost of the time wasted by the commuters of about 10,000 vehicles passing the circle each hour will surely be enormous, creating negative effect on our economy. I urge the authorities to take necessary steps to remove all the circles on different road crossings of the city as soon as possible and pave the way for smooth vehicular traffic in the city.
Duncan Chowdhury, Tejgaon, Dhaka
I congratulate the DTCB on its decision to remove the SAARC fountain. It will save countless lost hours spent in that roundabout and solve one of the major bottlenecks in Dhaka.
MA, On e-mail