On the first Friday of every month, a part of Manik Mia Avenue is blocked by Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) to create space for people to run, play, cycle and carry out a range of other activities. Teenagers ride their bicycles while their parents take strolls in the empty street. I visited the spot on the first Friday of August and talked to many people who came along with their family and friends to enjoy the day.
The initiative, titled, Car Free Street Dhaka, began in November 2018 with the help of 51 government and private organisations, in association with Surf Excel Bangladesh. The main aim of the organisers is to create more open, recreational spaces in Dhaka.
Amiya Shankar Das, one of the volunteers, conducted a paper-crafting workshop for kids as a part of the activities, while Mou Rani Deb Nath, another volunteer, made and distributed more than 50 bands to the children.
In another corner I came across a group of students from Asian University of Women, who are currently doing an internship at the Institute of Well Being. “It feels amazing to see such happy people all around. I would like to see such outdoor activities in my country as well,” said Sidra Gul from Pakistan. Samiksha Thapa, another student from Nepal, was playing Ludo with her friends.
While walking back home, I met a group of tourists from the USA, who came to visit the Parliament House, but were surprised to witness the positive energy on the street.
Car Free Street Dhaka was also held today, the first Friday of September.