Analysis: Why automated traffic signal failed
This week started with a trial of a new traffic signal system in Dhaka. But this trial proved to be disastrous as the capital experienced a total breakdown of traffic control.
Why should an automated traffic signal fail in a city like Dhaka when it works just fine in New York, Moscow or even Kolkata?
It’s true that Dhaka’s roads are inadequate compared to all big cities of the world. But consider this: Kolkata has more than 1.5 lakh taxi cabs alone.
New York or Moscow has three to four million motor vehicles. Dhaka does not have that. It has its own unique problem.
So what is the main problem?
The problem lies with the poor planning of the city corporations in executing a new traffic signal system.
Before trying out a signal system, the Dhaka city corporations must have detailed studies on the traffic volume of the city on various streets.
They must know how many vehicles cross the city points, at what time and what are the starting points and destinations of the vehicles.
It should also accommodate some unpredictable movement of vehicles and accordingly design how the digital traffic system should be implemented.
The next important thing was synchronisation of the countdown timers, depending on the traffic volume. Nothing like that happened in the case of the newly installed countdown timers and the outcome was terrible congestion and commuters’ sufferings.
Interestingly, the civil engineering department of the city corporation did plan for the traffic system and tried to execute it. There was no official or expert from the traffic engineering department.
When the trial run of the new traffic system was put in place between Kakali and Shahbagh, there was a traffic chaos even other adjoining roads also mainly because of the wrong synchronisation of the timers among the 11 points on the street.
When there was signal for going but the road ahead was found blocked with traffic. On the other hand, the road ahead was found empty when there was signal for not going. This has happened in some of the points.
Rather drivers were not used to of the system, there was haphazard driving and ignoring traffic lanes and thus disruption of smooth flow of the vehicles. For this expected number of vehicles could not pass during the stipulated time.
At one or two points, the system started working but turned chaotic due to failure in other points.
According to urban planners and traffic experts, the authorities should ensure that the synchronisation was done as per the traffic volume, people do not violate the traffic rules but follow the traffic signal, traffic police are well trained, jaywalking stopped and there is no illegal parking on the roads intercepting flow of the vehicular movement.
Whether it is done or not, the taxpayers’ money has already been spent in the name of new traffic system. And it is not expected that an inquiry would be carried out to find out how such a flawed project was initiated, who are the people pushed for it and what would be their punishment.