We welcome, albeit with a pinch of salt, the formation of a special committee led by Dhaka South City Corporation mayor to remove illegal vehicles from the streets and free footpaths from grabbers, thereby easing the intolerable traffic congestion that plagues us every day. At present, according to Accident Research Institute of Buet, every day, around 5 million working hours are wasted away while the average speed of vehicles during rush hours is 5kmph. The losses therefore are huge—between Tk 20,000 crore to Tk 50,000 crore.
It is heartening to know that the committee will initiate a move with the police to identify illegal vehicles including rickshaws, battery-operated rickshaws and CNG-run auto rickshaws. Intrusion from other districts and illegal parking will also be stopped. While all this sounds very encouraging on paper, we cannot but be a little sceptical considering the fact that traffic congestion has been disrupting our lives for years and many such drives from the government have been initiated with little long-term results. We hope that this two-month target will not be another well-intentioned move that fizzles out in the long run, only to maintain the unbearable status quo. The Road Transport and Bridges minister has admitted that many such decisions in the past were not implemented but has promised that things will be different this time. Perhaps this is because nobody is addressing how such traffic violations occur in the first place—because the traffic rules are not enforced properly and many violators go scot-free.
The minister has rightly identified the key to a successful drive which is sincerity in carrying it out and sticking to the programme. The people of Dhaka are exhausted and depleted by the scourge of traffic gridlocks. They are also tired of empty promises. We fervently hope that this time the plan to free the streets of illegal vehicles and the footpaths from illegal occupiers, will work.