Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  
Star Chittagong

People avoid footbridges as they are in bad shape

Thousands of pedestrians cross the busy thoroughfares risking their lives in the port city due to lack of sufficient footbridges and miserable states of the existing ones.

Pedestrians, mainly the women and children, standing helplessly at almost all intersections of the roads is a common sight in the city.

The slow moving rickshaws occupy most of the roads and vehicles at signal block the zebra crossing at the intersections at one side and the rush of vehicles with high speed from the other side hinder the pedestrians' movement.

During the rush hour, it reminds the people, bound for workplaces or students on way to schools or colleges, of the crying need of the footbridge.

The intersections, where the menace confronts the people mostly, included Bahaddarhat, Sholoshahar Gate no 2, GEC, Wasa, Lalkhan Bazar, Tiger Pass, Dewanhat, Badamtali and Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ).

Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) constructed three footbridges in front of Darul Fazal Market, Railway Station and Fakirhat.

But, due to lack of maintenance, the bridges are now lying in a miserable state with the floating people occupying and making unusable.

Rahima Khatun Moni, a university student, at the GEC intersection said, "I become utterly panic-stricken while cross the roads, which are either ruled by reckless driving or occupied by vehicles getting stuck in traffic congestion for long."

"Sometimes it even takes me as long as 15 minutes to cross an intersection," she said.

Mohammed Makbul Ahmad, a banker, said that violation of traffic rules by the drivers as well as for lack of proper management sometimes the intersections turn into death traps.

Moni and Makbul said construction of footbridge over the intersections is essential to help the pedestrians cross the roads safely.

But, only construction of such bridges won't help the pedestrians if they are not managed like the existing ones, they said.

A woman, standing beside the road in front of the Sholoshahar Gate No. 2 intersection to help her son cross the road safely on way to school, said, "I just shudder to imagine that my son is crossing the road himself because of the congestion and poorly managed traffic."

"A footbridge could have relieved me of this daily bothering of coming here only to help the kid cross the road," she said.

The other intersections of city streets also depict the same pictures.

A CDA engineer said at present they have no plan to construct footbridge.

Referring to the state of the existing ones, he said the poor management of traffic encourages pedestrians to avoid the footbridges and there is a very little use of constructing them.

So, instead of going for constructing footbridges, CDA is now focusing on the development and expansion of the city roads and roundabouts to expedite the traffic movement and help traffic management, said the CDA official preferring anonymity.

Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) Mahabub Hakim of Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) said reckless driving and traffic congestion caused the pedestrians to suffer a lot while crossing the roads.

He, however, said unless the drivers are respectful to the traffic rules, several hundred traffic police personnel will hardly be able to tackle the situation.

. PHOTO: Zobaer Hossain Sikder