The horrific traffic congestion that Dhaka commuters must suffer everyday has become a chronic problem. Contrary to expert opinion and the numerous studies done on the subject, we are surprised to learn that the government is planning to introduce 5,000 new auto-rickshaws on Dhaka streets in a move that will inevitably make the situation worse, not better. A bus carries approximately 50 passengers. Three auto-rickshaws lined up takes the same space as a bus could carry, at best 12 passengers. Road space in the city is limited and hence, the introduction of so many 3-wheelers may benefit the individual passengers wanting to move from one location to another, but it will do little to facilitate mass movement of people in this city of 15 million or so residents.
Going by what has been printed in this paper, we know that an average of 317 new vehicles hit city streets daily and the bulk of commuters rely on derelict and inefficient buses to travel. Given that road space remains sorely inadequate for a city the size of Dhaka, of which only 8 per cent make up the roads, it has become imperative to maximise road space in the most efficient way. That can only be done if we go for increasing public transport instead of encouraging 4-wheel passenger vehicles and 3-wheelers. And introduction of new buses alone will not help the situation because old minibuses carry too few passengers for the space they occupy, continue to ply the streets, and upping the number of buses will simply create more traffic congestion. We urge authorities to reconsider introduction of so many 3-wheelers, especially when there are more viable options.