Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 33, Tuesday August 21, 2007



Of roads and public transport…

The roads of Dhaka City are now worth catching a sight of! Ditches and puddles of water make them look like anything but the streets of the hub of a country. Chunks of stones and pebbles mixed in tar are coming off from surfaces making each road look like a flat fleshless giant lying in silence to endure more scrapes and scratches.

The roads of Uttara resemble bodies whose surfaces have been ruthlessly clawed by some ravenous beast! The description may sound very metaphoric but all truth be told, some of these roads are worth seeing. It doesn't matter if you are in a four, three or two wheeler, a journey through these roads is sure to shake you to the core. The other day while using one such battered road to go home, I felt my backbone getting untimely cracks on it. With every dive of the front wheel of the rickshaw into a ditch, I thought my intestines hopped in the hope of entering my diaphragm and exploring an all-new world.

With small pebbles strewn all over, it's even difficult to walk on these streets. I tried walking on one such road only to later discover holes on the soles my almost-new shoes. These roads certainly require immediate attention of the authorities. The incessant rain of the past few weeks brought out the skeletons of many roads of our city. For example, the highway to Zia International Airport underwent damage as well. Even though the highway has been taken care of, the roads inside Uttara Model Town remain untouched and unseen. It's not just Uttara though, most neighbourhoods of Dhaka were damaged by the non-stop rains of last month. However, rain is not alone to be blamed for such conditions-poor quality materials used in building Dhaka's roads only add to the problem.

Due to such a state, accidents are not rare. Rickshaws lose balance and topple over with their passengers. The plight of the Dhakaites has increased tremendously over the last few weeks. One has to literally dip his feet into the water-filled ditches on a rainy day to cross any amount of distance. Despite efforts on the contrary, CNG auto rickshaw drivers continue to be rude and callous and although the government has revised the CNG fare policy for the benefit of the passengers, no fruit of the new policy is seen in reality. Not only do these drivers continue to charge higher than the justified fare, they are also reluctant to go anywhere you would like them to go. On one sunny summer afternoon, I was standing on Kemal Ataturk Avenue to catch an empty CNG. Even though at least a dozen vacant CNGs passed by me, none of them was willing to take me to Uttara.

As I was getting deep fried in the summer heat, I noticed in amusement that the CNG drivers were reluctant to take their vehicles not only to Uttara but also to places like Dhanmondi, Mohammadpur, Tejgaon and Karwan Bazar.

Sometimes living in a metropolitan city can be quite a challenging task. Anyone who has lived in this city for a considerable period of time must have a robust immune system and is likely survive anywhere in the world. We are a population of over 10 million who survive inflation, pollution, overpopulation, scarcity of gas, clean water, electricity and what not. Battered roads and shortage of public transport seem to be new additions to this already-long list.

By Wara Karim
Photo: SK Enamul Haq


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