Vol. 5 Num 27 Wed. June 23, 2004  
Star City

DUTP gets more time
Rickshaw-free roads uncertain

The World Bank has extended the project duration of Dhaka Urban Transport Project (DUTP) up to December this year taking into consideration some incomplete development work.

The five-year project was taken under the Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB) in 1999 with the aim to ease the ever-increasing traffic congestion of the city.

World Bank's country director Christine I Wallich approved the project extension on June 15. The original length of DUTP is supposed to end in July but a good number of sub-component projects are unfinished. These include three bus terminals, the Mohakhali flyover, development of certain intersections, six foot over bridges, pavements and construction of roads.

"Hopefully we will be able to give the finishing touches to all the incomplete projects by December," said Helaluddin Nagari, advisor for institutional support and linkage of DTCB.

The revised project cost is estimated at Tk 827 crore. Of it the WB will provide Tk 608 crore in loan while the Bangladesh government's contribution is Tk 219 crore. Nearly Tk 486 crore of the total expenditure had been spent until the current month, according to DUTP sources.

"The money still unused will be needed to pay due bills to the contractors. After that a small amount might remain unspent," Helaluddin said.

The WB has also extended the duration of the Strategic Transport Plan (STP), a component of DUTP until March 2005. STP was taken recently to design the city's traffic and transport system with an eye to the next 20 years. The plan is expected to provide solution to congestion and would chalk out measures to ensure sustainable traffic flow and proper public transportation.

An American company Louias Perger in cooperation with Bangladesh Consultant Limited is conducting the extensive study at a cost of Tk 10 crore. The World Bank will fund the eight-month survey. The survey team will come up with a set of recommendations.

"After the completion of the STP, further plans will be taken based on the recommendations," Helaluddin said.

Meanwhile, the decision to make rickshaws off-limits on the major thoroughfares of Dhaka has hit a deadlock while the DUTP is coming to an end. The stretches of roads to see rickshaw-bans were Kalabagan crossing to Azimpur via New Market and Science Laboratory to College Road (next to Bangabazar) via Shahbag and Press Club. These roads were supposed to be rickshaw-free from February 25.

"That decision could not be implemented as the policy makers feared it could be used as a political tool," said a DUTP official who preferred to remain anonymous.

"The Prime Minister's office and the mayor of Dhaka put pressure on the DUTP to withdraw the directive and suggested implementing the decision slowly even after the DUTP had launched a huge campaign to create public opinion in favour of the decision," another DUTP member seeking anonymity, said.

The DUTP had also planned to make three more major roads Progati Sarani to Mouchak, Bangla Motor to Mouchak and Rokeya Sarani to Farmgate rickshaw-free by 2005 but that too has now become uncertain.

Installation of traffic signal posts in Gulshan and major junctions is likely to ease traffic jams.. PHOTO: Syed Zakir Hossain