Chattogram city residents were surprised by a recent call from Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), urging people to use the 11 footbridges.
They feel they need footbridges in at least 18 more intersections of the port city and the existing ones are either poorly maintained or occupied by hawkers and the homeless.
Md Shamsuddoha, chief executive officer at Chattogram City Corporation (CCC), said people hardly use footbridges and zebra crossings. BRTA Chattorgram circulated a “public interest notice” in local newspapers last month, urging residents to use those.
Regarding the notice, Abdur Rashid, a schoolteacher in Chawkbazar, said, “How can we use footbridges when we do not have them at most intersections?”
Locals stated demands for construction of footbridges at Chawkbazar Gulzar, Nawab Sirajuddaula Road, Kotwali, Bahaddarhat, Sholoshahar Gate 2, Wasa, Lalkhan Bazar, Dewan Hat, Choumuhuni, Agrabad Badamtoli, Oxygen, Anderkilla, Laldighi, AK Khan, Alankar, GEC, Kazir Dewri and Muradpur intersections.
Road accidents frequently occur at those points because pedestrians are left with no option but to jaywalk, they told this paper.
A 70-year-old got ran over by a bus at Dewan Hat on January 15. The next day, an HSC candidate died after being hit by a lorry at Kotwali.
The existing footbridges are at New Market, Chattogram Railway Station, Dampara, Port Connecting Road, two intersections at CEPZ, Colonel Hat, Fakirhat, Chattogram Customs House, Port Officers Colony and Navy Hospital Gate.
Md Shahidullah Kaiser, divisional deputy director of BRTA, said they published the circular to make people aware. CCC and Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) had been asked to build more footbridges at the points mentioned by residents, he said.
CDA started building two footbridges -- one at Muradpur and one at GEC -- in December. The construction work is still on although Mahfuzur Rahman, executive engineer of CDA, earlier told The Daily Star that they would be completed by February.
When asked why CDA was constructing only two footbridges, he said, “Flyovers are located at those points. That's why we are trying to make movement easy for commuters there.”
CCC chief Shamsuddoha said they were trying to motivate pedestrians to use the existing footbridges, adding that many were reluctant to use the facilities.
CCC will build footbridges on Zakir Hossain Road in front of Nasirabad Women's College and on Bayazid Bostami Road, he said.
During recent visits, this correspondent saw a number of pedestrians using the footbridges at CEPZ and Dampara. On the other hand, the bridges at New Market and Station Road were found occupied by hawkers.
Filth and hawkers impede pedestrians' movements on New Market footbridge, where a number of homeless people also stay.
“We want to use the footbridge but it remains dirty and occupied,” said Shanta Barua, a commuter who was spotted jaywalking at the intersection.
Kusum Dewan, additional commissioner (traffic) at Chattogram Metropolitan Police, said eight intersections had been marked and both CCC and CDA had been asked to build footbridges there.
About lack of maintenance and illegal occupation, she said, “I'm not aware of it. I'll look into it and take action accordingly.”