Improved signalling system!
The horrendous tailbacks suffered by Dhaka residents last Saturday and Sunday were, we are informed the result of a new signal system installed by the authorities at a cost of Tk14 crore. Indeed, going by reports published in this paper, we note that Tk 37 crore has been spent over the course of the last 11 years to "improve" the signals system. If what we witnessed on the two days in question is any measure, the tax payers' money has been less than well spent.
The new countdown timers installed alongside traffic lights to help traffic police to conduct the flow of vehicles on roads failed for a number of reasons. Seldom are signal lights relied on to direct traffic by police. Equally important is the failure to follow traffic signals by drivers. It is essentially more manual than mechanical or electrical on the ground.
It is difficult to comprehend why city residents were apparently not informed of the installation of these new devices and how to follow them. There was no public awareness campaign carried out prior to installation or operationalisation so that failure was built into the experimentation. The resulting chaos that ensued would have been entirely avoidable had the road motor vehicle operators been sensitised in advance. The authorities really need to get their act together. Lessons need to be learnt from this trial-and-error process of what works and what does not need but ad-hoc experimentation is not an option.