Monday, November 26, 2012

How to purge traffic from the Dhaka City

[I was asked by a friend to write about how to improve traffic in Dhaka city on a website, I was hardly prepared for it and this is what I came up with. I posted what I had written there]

This can totally ruin your Sundays

I traveled all over the world, from the expansive North America to the historically enriched European countries. As a person who was born here in Dhaka, I have witnessed such night and day differences that changed my perception of a better life. Yet, I still never found myself comfortable living there, understandably since I was accustomed to life over here. However, if you ask me to bring any concept from those foreign countries that I could bring over here, the answer would be simple: An actual system in place to deal with traffic. Over there, it felt almost surreal at times how I got to travel from one place to the next within minutes, while a similar situation over here would result in hours standing in a traffic stretching out as much as the eye meets the horizon. It is not that they have less cars and people to deal with, frankly some of the cities I visited were much more populated than here, yet as strange as it may be, it felt the exact opposite. So why exactly is the case? Simple really, they deal the traffic problem the way a Scientist deals with a problem: The cause of the problem, the effects of the problem, various solution to deal with the problem and finally the best solution. So using this method, lets find out the core reason of the traffic problem over here in Dhaka and try to find out the best solution.

Lets us first start with the cause, why is Dhaka City so heavy in traffic? Is it the lack of roads or because of how the population is seemingly concentrated in and around Dhaka City? I would say both. Bangladesh, despite being 147,600 km² , in reality is actually 815.8 km² which is the size of Dhaka. The reason I had to come up with such a nonsense claim is because, despite how expansive Bangladesh is, people all over the country concentrate in that small 815.8 km², leaving other areas almost empty in comparison. Why do people flock here? Because of working opportunities. It is no secret that if you want to have any real working opportunity, you need to pack your luggage and head straight for the capital. Now imagine putting 147,600 km² worth of people in a small area as 815.8 km², that is approximately 181 times the people that area could properly sustain! No matter how many roads or highways you build around Dhaka, and there isn't much left to build, the problem will hardly be unscathed.

Now that we looked into the problem, lets come to the difficult part in coming up various solutions for the problem. Lets start with the roads: More roads always helps no matter which way you look at it. More roads will result in the traffic being dispersed and well create less of a concentration in key areas, and in turn, lighter traffic. Actual highways would also be nice; over here we hardly have any highways in the traditional sense of the word, all we have is the airport road, which frankly turned into a mess with all the road cuts made for cars to U-turn and reasons unknown, speed bumps on a highway. Highway is supposed to be as it sounds like, high speed roads. However, for a lack of a better word, these stupid ideas will just create more traffic. So the Government should really work to get those highways back. Finally, the biggest reason of the traffic, the people. People from various parts of the country love to come to Dhaka, not just for a mini vacation, but to setup traffic, I mean shop. So how you do convince them to stop from where they are coming up? Create new jobs outside of this city. They all come in numbers in hopes for a job, in turn causing a traffic storm, why not create jobs outside of the city so they don't have to come here? I traveled most of Bangladesh and I remember seeing the same thing every time I go outside the city limits: The fields are empty, unused and it just doesn't end anytime soon. Why not make use of those open space and create factories for our people to work for? I can assure you that they don't want to come all the way to Dhaka away from their families as much as we don't want them to create even more traffic over here. Not only that, the whole economy gets a face lift by doing so. It really is a win win situation.

During holidays, it feels like a ghost town. Surreal at times...

So there you have it, I want pardon my readers for the harsh tone of the essay, but it is only so because I care. We all love Dhaka city, what we don't love is the traffic. Let us try to convince our government to act smartly for a change and remedy this situation. A Dhaka City without much traffic? Something tells me it will feel like Eid everyday.

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