Major reason for traffic jams? 70% registered vehicles in Dhaka motorbikes, pvt cars
- Fewer than 3pc Dhaka's vehicles buses, minibuses; 1.51pc across country
- Dhaka's traffic consists of 70pc motorcycles, private cars
- Lack of public transport behind boom of illegal, unsafe three-wheelers
- Discouraging use of small vehicles, increasing buses, minibuses the solution, say experts
Fewer than three percent of registered vehicles in Dhaka city are buses and minibuses, exposing the poor public-transport situation of the capital, where over two crore people live.
In contrast, around 70 percent of registered vehicles comprise motorcycles and private cars, which are considered as major reasons behind traffic congestion and road crashes.
The picture is grimmer in other parts of the country, shows government data.
Only 1.51 percent of registered vehicles across the country are buses and minibuses. This has led to a boom of illegal and unsafe small vehicles, like easy-bikes and locally-made three-wheelers.
Over 70.15 percent of the country's vehicles are motorcycles, while 7.54 percent are private cars, show data of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA).
Traffic congestion is a perennial problem for Dhaka city, but it has intensified, as the capital returned to normalcy after the Covid-19 situation improved and all educational institutions reopened. Following the start of Ramadan, commuters are suffering even more.
SMALL VEHICLES: ROOT CAUSE OF JAMS, CRASHES
Transport expert Prof Shamsul Hoque said small vehicles are a major reason behind traffic congestion in Dhaka city. If the number of such vehicles can be reduced, buses and minibuses will get more space on the roads, leading to more trips.
Instead of discouraging small vehicles, the government policy actually encourages them, he said.
The government has halved bike registration fees and is providing loans to its officials for buying cars. Cars are also being procured under different projects, said Prof Shamsul, former director of Buet's Accident Research Institute.
In this situation, Dhaka's traffic jams will not reduce but increase, he said. Increasing the number of buses without reducing the number of small vehicles will not improve traffic.
The government has to discourage usage of small vehicles and quickly introduce the bus franchising system, he added.
He said lack of public transport is a reason behind the boom of illegal and unsafe three-wheelers, which is a major reason behind the rise in road crashes.
According to Road Safety Foundation, at least 589 people were killed and 647 injured in 458 road crashes during the last month, which means 19 people were killed every day on average.
Bikes were involved in 22 percent of accidents, while locally-made three-wheelers were involved in 16.12 percent of crashes, the organisation said yesterday.
The more alarming fact is that bikes were involved in 37.52 percent of accidents that resulted in death, it said.
A total of 5,084 people were killed in 5,472 road crashes in 2021, 30 percent higher than the previous year, according to a police report.
Road-safety organisations put the figure much higher.
POOR SHOW OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT
A total of 51.10 lakh vehicles have been registered with BRTA across the country till February this year, of which only 49,673 (0.97 percent) are buses and 27,617 (0.54 percent) minibuses. In contrast, 35,85,488 bikes (70.15 percent) and 3,85,113 (7.54 percent) private cars have been registered.
In Dhaka, 18.10 lakh vehicles have been registered till February, of which 37,593 (2.08 percent) are buses and 9,891 (0.55 percent) minibuses. A total of 9,14,817 (50.53 percent) bikes and 3,17,509 (17.54 percent) private cars have been registered, shows BRTA data.
In the first two months of this year, only 315 buses and 72 minibuses were registered across the country, in contrast to 84,583 bikes and 3,123 private cars.
Contacted, BRTA Chairperson Nur Mohammad Mazumder said people are buying more private cars as their financial condition is improving and they are getting easy loans from banks.
Meanwhile, ride-sharing services are the reason behind the rise of bikes in the city, he told The Daily Star yesterday.
Procuring vehicles for government employees is nothing new, he said, as the government used to buy cars for them earlier, and is now providing loans for doing so.
Asked about experts' opinion of discouraging small vehicles, he did not give a direct answer.
Factories and mills should not be inside Dhaka. Public transport should be available for every school and college, and all students must enrol into educational institutions in their areas, he said.