PURPORTEDLY to encourage pedestrians to use footbridge and discourage jaywalking, the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) is fitting one end of the Banani footbridge with an electric escalator as a pilot project. No doubt, the idea is novel, but questions remain about its practicability.
How is the DNCC going to run the project cost-effectively if and when it is replicated even on a selective basis? In a power-starved country like Bangladesh, where is the DNCC hoping to get the power from to operate similarly-fitted footbridges in case the pilot project is expanded?
One wonders how far DCC will even maintain such a costly project efficiently, given its record in this respect when one looks at the condition of the city's various public facilities.
The city corporation's concerns about jaywalking as well as the problems faced, especially by old people, while crossing footbridges are understandable. But shouldn't the policymakers in the DNCC have opted for a less showy, but more effective and durable approach to the issue? The point at issue is to change the pedestrians' behaviour so that they may not transversely cross roads risking their lives. But short of building adequate awareness and instilling traffic sense among the public through massive campaigns through the publicity wings of the government and the media, there is no easy way out of the problem. An escalator added to a footbridge may draw some curious public for some time, but it would be naïve to think that it can effect a lasting change in the general pedestrians' behaviour. Moreover, why not have more underpasses at suitable locations, which will help public mobility better?