No respite from tailbacks
Traffic congestions continued causing havoc for commuters in the capital yesterday, as vehicles slowed to a crawl on the city streets narrowed by illegally parked vehicles.
Things did not improve despite the prime minister's instructions for the police to act against illegal parking the day before.
Cars and microbuses were seen parked on either side of the roads for hours.
As drivers snoozed in their parked cars, the traffic toiled slowly along the roads.
This was the scene common to all major roads including those in Jatrabari, Motijheel, Paltan, Bijoynagar, Shantinagar, Rajarbagh, Khilgaon, Rampura, Mouchak, Maghbazar, New Market, Dhaka College, Farmgate, Tejgaon and Panthapath.
Meanwhile, high officials concerned met at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday to discuss traffic situation and the PM's directives in this regard.
HT Imam, an adviser to PM, presided over the meeting attended among others by secretaries of home, communications and LGRD ministries, BRTA and BRTC chairmen, officials of Dhaka City Corporation and the law enforcement agencies.
Shafique Alam Mehdi, additional secretary of the communications ministry, said manpower shortage and logistics problems came up for discussion at the meeting.
"As long-term strategies, we recommended relocating the shopping malls outside the capital and actions against unplanned builders,” added Shafique, who also heads the 12-member high-powered committee to coordinate the measures to curb traffic jam.
To ease the commuters' plight during Ramadan, Dhaka Metropolitan Police and BRTA have been carrying out specials drives against illegal parking, unfit vehicles and violation of traffic rules.
But their efforts did not yet see much result as their poorly equipped officials keep struggling to cut the tailbacks.
Both DMP and Bangladesh Road Transport Authority say they don't have enough wreckers to drag the seized vehicles off the roads.
DMP Commissioner AKM Shahidul Haque told The Daily Star, "Over five lakh vehicles ply the city roads, whereas we have only five wreckers, three of which often get out of action.”
Without more wreckers being added to the DMP fleet, he noted, it won't be possible to act effectively against illegal parking and breach of traffic rules.
Besides, he cited shortage of manpower and other logistics as another key obstacle to immediate execution of the government orders to seize the vehicles of traffic offenders.
Despite the limitations, the commissioner added, they have already seized 2,600 motorised vehicles and over 4,000 rickshaws in the special drive that began on August 9.
BRTA Director (enforcement) Tapan Kumar Sarker, a member of the 12-member committee, spoke of similar problems. He said the condition of BRTA is even grimmer. It has no wrecker at all.
The two mobile courts it set up on August 4 have been working with a single wrecker hired from DMP.
Deputy Commissioner (Dhaka) Zillar Rahman, who has been leading 13 mobile courts since August 24, said he has yet to receive any written instructions about the PM's directives.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, a magistrate involved in the ongoing drive said they cannot seize vehicles for want of wreckers and also due to insufficient legal muscle.