Community parking management with enhanced public transport services is essential to alleviate the unbearable traffic congestion in the capital, said transport experts and urban planners at a dialogue on Monday.
"As our economic condition improves traffic congestion will increase further," said Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operative (LGRD) Minister Md Tajul Islam at Dhaka Reporters Unity, addressing the discussion on persisting gridlock and solutions for it.
The minister said, "People will buy more cars as they earn more money as the country's economy advances. I would like to say that everyone must fulfill their duty and we are working on reducing traffic congestion, but it will take time."
Regarding the handover of traffic management to the two mayors of Dhaka, the minister said the matter needs to be resolved on a trial basis. "It would be a praiseworthy achievement if they can handle it," he said.
The keynote address was delivered by Shamsul Haque, a transportation expert and professor of Civil Engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).
He said, "Only 2.5% of the roads in Dhaka are suitable for buses as we do not have suitable roads needed for that kind of traffic."
Many developed cities in the world have refrained from building flyovers but we are constructing flyovers inside the city which has delivered complete traffic chaos. It is not sustainable development, he said.
"It is not possible to completely reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka but the roads should be widened to facilitate public transport. Public transport services also need to be improved," said the BUET professor.
Moreover, the use of small cars on city roads should be discouraged, and flyovers should no longer be built anywhere in Dhaka. We need to focus on the development of mass transit, he added.
Urban planner and architect Mubasshar Hussein said, "A residential complex has been set up for 114 secretaries on Minto Road, all of whom leave in their cars for office in the morning. If they had used first class buses to get to the secretariat, there would not have been 114 vehicles piling up in gridlock. If the government wants, it is possible to reduce traffic congestion by improving public transport."
Route rationalisation should not be done with the buses of just two companies but all companies should be engaged. Then their buses can be allotted to different routes, the expert said, adding that violation of traffic rules is also an issue that needs to be addressed strictly.
Ashraful Islam, project director of Rajuk's Detailed Area Plan project, said, "School hours can be rescheduled to reduce traffic congestion. It is important to introduce school buses, alongside community parking management."
The work on Dhaka's three ring roads needs to be tackled urgently and immediately to reduce traffic congestion in the city, he added.
Asadur Rahman Molla, a traffic management expert, said it is possible to reduce traffic congestion by managing the one-way and two-way road combinations, building underpasses and U-turns, and making the traffic signal system more effective.
Ilias Kanchan, chairman of Nirapad Sarak Chai (We Demand Safe Roads), in his speech, sharply criticised the government for its delayed implementation of various roads and highways construction projects.
He cited the example of Narayanganj City Corporation for its efforts in addressing long-standing traffic congestion issues there.