A special committee led by Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon was formed yesterday to remove illegal vehicles from streets and free footpaths from grabbers, to ease traffic congestion in the capital.
In the next two months, the committee, in association with police, will identify illegal vehicles including rickshaws, battery-run rickshaws and CNG-run auto-rickshaws. It will then remove those from streets and reclaim footpaths from grabbers, stop intrusion of such vehicles from neighbouring districts and stop illegal parking.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader revealed the information after the 12th board meeting of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) at Nagar Bhaban in Gulistan.
“It is not expected that all the decisions will be executed within two months. However, we believe, the committee led by Sayeed Khokon will show results to the city dwellers,” he said.
“We only take decisions but those are not implemented. Through the activities [of the committee] in the next two months, we want to bring back people’s confidence,” said Quader, also the general secretary of Awami League.
The decision came at a time when traffic congestion in Dhaka eats up around 5 million working hours every day and the average speed of vehicles during rush hours has come down to 5kmph, according to Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Buet.
The congestion causes an annual loss of between Tk 20,000 crore and Tk 55,000 crore, ARI said last year, citing findings of organisations working on the issue.
The authorities, on many occasions, had taken initiatives to remove illegal vehicles from city’s streets. Also, multiple drives had been carried out to reclaim footpaths from illegal occupation. But those initiatives lost momentum after a few days and illegal vehicles and occupants returned to streets and footpaths again.
Asked whether he can give any assurance that such incidents will not recur, Quader said, “Solution will come if we try sincerely and stick to a programme.” He mentioned that 99 percent riders now wear helmets due to their continuous efforts.
“So, if we work with sincerity and coordination, we will get a solution and this time, we’re going to take effective steps,” he added.
Quader said traffic division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police will take necessary steps to install automated traffic signals. He also said DTCA meetings will be held every two months in a bid to make it an effective organisation.
Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim; DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon; mayors of Narayanganj and Gazipur city corporations; two lawmakers from Narayanganj and Munshiganj and top officials of different ministries and agencies, police and organisations of transport owners and workers took part in the closed-door meeting.