Vol. 5 Num 184 Mon. November 29, 2004  
Star City

Mohakhali flyover multiplies traffic chaos at some points

Mohakhali flyover, the first of its kind in the country, has failed to prove effective against traffic congestion rather multiplied the problem at some points around it.

Beginning from Banani Chairmanbari, the peak-hour tailback stretches on the entire deck of the 1.12-km flyover, up to Bijoy Sarani. The gridlock aggravates the traffic situation on the entire road towards Shahbagh including in front of the Prime Minister's office.

Traffic flow has increased manifold than it was six years ago when the flyover was designed. Moreover, increasing number of commuters are compelled to use the flyover, as all the roads inside Dhaka Cantonment were made off-limits to outsiders after the inauguration of the flyover on November 4.

When asked, Commun-ications Minister Nazmul Huda told Star City that traffic congestion should not occur in the area, as the flyover is not carrying any extra load than before. "Number of vehicles is almost same as earlier whether they run on the flyover or on the road below it," he said adding: "Lack of proper management causes the gridlock."

"There should not be any problem if the four-lane system on the flyover and traffic signals are maintained properly," the minister observed.

Whatever reason lies behind the gridlock at Mohakhali, the situation has become unbearable for the commuters after the flyover was opened to traffic. The vehicles get almost standstill on the flyover, specially during peak hours.

"What a blunder I made by taking this trip! Now it takes three hours to reach West Dhanmondi. I would not be able to take enough trips today to manage the loss," grumbled Abul Mia, a CNG autorickshaw driver while coming from Banani.

"And what about me! Meter is still ticking while the CNG is stuck in jam. Do you people think we have a money-making machine?" commented his passenger.

This type of conversations is typical now in the morning when heavy traffic from the north, especially from Uttara, streams towards the south creating gridlock on the flyover.

"The lines of cars on the flyover are seen from afar without moving a single inch for long," said Jasmine Ahmed, a housewife residing in Mohakhali.

However, the south to north road remains comparatively empty in the morning only to get reversed in the evening when those commuters return.

"I have never experienced such a gridlock in my entire life," said Nazmul Ahsan, a resident of Uttara. "It took more than two hours to reach my office in Motijheel," he said adding, it would be same when he returns in the evening.

Due to the gridlock up to Bijoy Sarani crossing, the traffic congestion spreads towards Farm Gate, Sonargaon Crossing and Shahbag, even touching Dhaka University area, Matsya Bhaban and Kakrail crossing.

"The vehicles are now coming faster from other parts only to be stuck in front of Prime Minister's Office (PMO)," commented Alamgir Hossain, driver of a private car.

"In fact the flyover should have been stretched at least from Banani rail crossing to Progoti Sarani, said Professor Nazrul Islam, chairman, Urban Planning Department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

He said the flyover would have served well, if another wing of it diverted the west-bound traffic to the Rokeya Sarani to lessen the pressure on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue.

"I think the authority had never planned properly before they constructed Mohakhali flyover. May be they have seen such constructions abroad and just wanted to make one here," commented an urban planner. He said the flyover might have been made as a 'status symbol' rather than a solution to traffic chaos.

When asked one of the officials of Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB) admitted the fact that the flyover has added to the woes of commuters. He said a series of further steps are necessary, including the construction of flyovers at Kemal Atartuk crossing and at Bijoy Sarani intersection, for a permanent solution.

"We had foreseen the traffic jam long back but none of the follow-up projects started due to fund shortage and administrative tangles within DTCB," the official said. He said still there is no direction for immediate ending of the situation.

The communications minister however told Star City that the ministry is planning to construct an underpass underneath the Tejgaon Airport towards Rokeya Sarani and Mirpur Road to divert the traffic to the west.