I was moved very much with the volume of news reports and photographs published in different dailies and also with the emotional outburst of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Shahidul Huq in a recent meeting(20-08-09) held under the chairmanship of Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain telecast on TV. The full video of Shahidul Huq's speech was though not telecast on TV but the thrust of his contention was clear enough to the audience.
He said Dhaka city roads can accommodate only 3-4 lakh vehicles but at the moment more than 6 lakh vehicles ply the city roads. How can police control the abnormal situation? The minister did not reply to his comment. In fact he had no reply. Let us try to understand the problem in an easy way. You have a small house to accommodate 10 people. If all on a sudden 3-4 guests arrive then what will you do? You will disperse them in different rooms. Ladies will go to lady's room; children will go to childbed. Things are normally managed this way. Instead of doing this if the host becomes puzzled and blame the guests of lacking common sense and also the guests become impatient and criticize the limited facilities of the host then surely the situation will go beyond control and everybody will have to suffer. Same is the case with our traffic congestion.
Dhaka city is now accommodating not only 2-3 lakh extra vehicles but also it has to accommodate few lakh extra rickshaws and few crores of human beings. As the number of people increased, consequently the number of rickshaws and vehicles increased. Whenever the discussion on traffic congestion comes up the concerned people move on the peripheries but realistic mechanisms of controlling population and vehicles never come up.
Decentralization can be a long-term mechanism for reducing traffic congestion in Dhaka which the government can actively think of. Decentralization can help create employment also. Dhaka city dwellers are undisciplined and impatient (not all). They normally do not follow the existing traffic rules while moving on foot. But the problem cannot be solved with active participation of citizens.