Illegal parking: Dhaka's Satrasta back to its old self | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:27 PM, November 26, 2020

Illegal parking: Dhaka's Satrasta back to its old self

Late mayor Annisul’s stellar work going to waste as trucks return to the thoroughfare

With trees and shrubs on the median strip thinning out and truckers parking vehicles on both sides of the road, Tejgaon-Satrasta is once again returning to its old self -- a troublesome thoroughfare for traffic.

Five years ago, late mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Annisul Huq turned the choked and almost unusable road into a functional one by removing an illegal truck stand, constructing wide pavements and planting trees on the median.

For decades, the illegal truck stand had occupied Satrasta (seven-way intersection) where trucks, pickups and covered vans would block both sides of the road. There was hardly any walkway.

In face of strong opposition from influential transport leaders, no one dared to remove the illegal stand. But things changed for the better after Annisul removed the stand despite coming under huge pressure.

The renovated Tejgaon-Satrasta road soon become an embodiment of the late mayor's tireless efforts to ease the city's unbearable traffic congestion.

But the road, named after Annisul Huq after his death in 2017, is now facing the same problem of traffic congestion due to absence of any visible action from authorities concerned for a sustainable parking solution that the late mayor had pledged.

"The road became useable again because of the initiative of mayor Annisul. But covered-vans and trucks now start occupying the road again from evening," said Md Ali Noyon, a trader at Farmgate.

During recent visits, this correspondent saw a lot of the shrubbery on the median strip of the 18-metre wide road has disappeared.

A part of the footpath at the northern side has been damaged while construction materials of an adjacent multi-storied building is being kept on the walkway.

Locals and some rickshaw-pullers said the number of trucks parked on the road increases at night.

During multiple visits at night, this newspaper saw over 50 trucks and covered-vans parked on both sides of the road.

Mohammad Atik, a covered van driver of Nababganj Transport Agency, said they keep their vehicles on the road for convenience.

He said if they keep their trucks at the terminal then they have to wait till around 9am to leave the area due to other vehicles.

Not only that, all the three connecting roads -- the one in front of BG press staff quarter, behind central food depot and the one connecting Satrasta near the rail crossing to the northern side -- are also occupied by trucks.

The road behind the Land Record and Survey Department was also occupied with around hundred trucks and covered-vans. Some were kept there for repairing works.

"We cannot move around smoothly as the road in front of our quarter remains occupied by these vehicles round the clock," said Solaiman, a resident of Land Record and Survey Staff Quarter.

He said there was a plan to shift all the trucks but that did not happen due to lack of proper initiatives after the death of Annisul Huq.

The road is choked with randomly parked trucks and covered vans even during the day, said locals.

Iqbal Habib, joint secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, said when the Satrasta at Tejgaon was recovered, it was done conditionally.

Annisul made a commitment that he will create a parking place in a planned way at some places beside the rail line and on land of railway and the central food depot, said Habib, also an architect.

But after the mayor's death, everyone seemed to have forgotten that, he said.

Habib said as the government has constructed warehouses at Tejgoan, they will have to create a central parking facility as well for transportation of the goods. "This problem will never be fixed without solving it."

He said the crux of the problem is the central truck terminal, built illegally on railway land beside Tejgaon Railway Station.

Asked, Mohammad Nazrul Islam, divisional estate officer and deputy commissioner (railway lands and buildings) of Bangladesh Railway, said around eight acres of railway land is being used illegally for the truck stand.

Mentionable, the 550-metre Satrasta is the only thoroughfare for the central truck terminal.

An on-duty traffic police told The Daily Stat last week that they try to keep the Mayor Annisul Road free from parking during daytime but if becomes virtually impossible for them to maintain traffic at night due to the trucks.

Trucks are parked on the road due to lack of accommodation facilities in the terminal, said many truckers.

However, Iqbal Habib said truck owners' association do not follow the loading and unloading schedules of goods. As a result, many trucks remain parked illegally on Satrasta.

"No one is taking the initiative to construct a central parking facility, evicting encroachers," he said, adding that it is the duty of the city corporation to ensure that.

"This [Satrasta] is a vital alternative road to reduce traffic pressure at Farmgate and Karwan Bazar -- the two busy business hubs in the city," he said.

Adil Mohammad Khan, general secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners, said eviction of illegal occupants from Satrasta was a big achievement. But in absence of an alternative arrangement for truckers, they have once again started occupying the road.

"We need truck stands. But it should be outside the city not in the middle of it," he said. This truck stand must be removed to ensure smooth traffic movement on the road, he added.

Asked, Osman Ali, general secretary of Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation, said there is a shortage of space at the Tejgaon truck terminal for which trucks that enter the city after 11pm has to park on the Annisul Huq Road.

But the road remains free of trucks during the day, he claimed. "I will talk to local leaders to keep the road clear for smooth vehicular movement," he said.

About parking trucks on other roads connecting Satrasta, he reiterated that it was due to space constraint at the terminal.

Contacted, DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said he has conducted drives twice to keep the roads free. "I will again send magistrates to take necessary steps shortly," he assured.

About space constraints at the terminal, the mayor said a comprehensive plan is needed in this regard. He said they are working on the issue and trying to come up with a permanent solution.  

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