Effect of Traffic Congestion over businesses of old Dhaka and Identify the Way Forward

Due to unbearable traffic congestion the historic old Dhaka is day by day losing its charm of long heritage of being one of the largest economic and trading hub in the country, told Ashraf Ahmed, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) at a Round Table discussion meeting on the topic “Effect of Traffic Congestion over businesses of old Dhaka and Identify the Way Forward” organized by DCCI at its own auditorium at Motijheel on 02 April, 2024. Mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh was present as the chief guest.

In his presentation, DCCI President Ashraf Ahmed expressed that old Dhaka alone probably contributes about 20 percent to the country’s GDP. Old Dhaka is one of the largest trading hubs in the country and thousands of crores taka transactions takes place in this part of city. But due to unbearable traffic jam, many businesses are now trying to shift to other places. And if this trend continues, one day, the city will lose its long heritage as the economic heart of the country. He also said that due to traffic congestion working hour worth of about 140 crore taka is being lost daily. Moreover, unplanned urbanization and expansion create traffic congestion that result in about 2.9 percent GDP loss, he added. Illegal shops on the footpath, narrow roads, lack of traffic system, illegal uses of footpath by the shops, illegal rickshaws and vans, illegal hawkers are few of the major problems for traffic jam in the old Dhaka. He suggested one way traffic system to ease the situation. He also recommended for artificial intelligent (AI) based traffic signaling, administrative decentralization, long term urban development strategy, expansion of metro-rail in old Dhaka, developing an integrated circular river route, loading and unloading after 9 pm and eviction of illegal hawkers from the footpath.

Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, Mayor, Dhaka South City Corporation said that unplanned urbanization and unabated expansion are created by us and we all are responsible for this. Urban plan should be done by City Corporation, he said. He also pointed out that DSCC has been able to nearly double its revenue from around 550 crore taka to over 1031 crore without increasing any taxes just by improving governance. DSCC has successfully tackled the solid waste problem and is now focusing on waterlogging. He said that a new central business hub will be built at Keranigonj as this area is situated beside the Buriganga River. He also said that from now on bus counters will no more be allowed to station outside the bus terminals. He later requested the shop owners not to allow any hawkers to sit in front of their shops anymore and be strict against them. Soon eco-friendly and IoT based transportation system will be implemented in Dhaka, he later told. Regarding eviction of illegal footpath hawkers, the Mayor told that it is not an easy task to evict them all time but recently by the DSCC 8 spots have been identified as yellow and green zone where hawkers can do their businesses freely but he strongly said that they cannot establish any floating shops in the red zones identified by the DSCC.

Mizanur Rahman, CEO, DSCC said that illegal trading on footpath is one of the major reason behind traffic jam in old Dhaka. He said that DSCC regularly conducts eviction drives against the illegal hawkers. He also told that the lost canals are being revived from the land grabber so it will help reducing waterlogging in the city. To ease the traffic congestion, feasibility of so far 60 points has been done to implement AI based traffic signaling system, he added.

Neelima Akter, Executive Director (Additional Secretary), Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) said that we need to formulate an action plan or specialized strategic solution for the future. She also urged on better coordination among the concerned government agencies.

Md. Munibur Rahman, Additional Police Commissioner (Traffic) said that a city like Dhaka needs at least 30 percent roads but actually we have only 7-8%. The orientation of traffic system of old Dhaka and new Dhaka will be different because of its long heritage and culture. Upon demand of businessmen of old Dhaka, he committed that as soon as possible traffic police will be deployed in the old Dhaka. He suggested for smart parking, relocation of bus terminals, inter-city bus counters, coordination among the stakeholders, building few escalator foot over bridges and skywalk.

Director (Planning & Development), Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited Md. Abdul Baki Mia said that government will complete all the six lines of MRT by the 2030. Of these, MRT-2 has a plan to connect the old Dhaka with its route from Gabtoli to Narayangonj. He also suggested to build a couple of bridges over the Buriganga river to ease old Dhaka traffic.

Former Executive Director, DTCA Dr. S M Salehuddin said that we need to ensure harmonization between the land use plan and transportation plan. He also urged for one way traffic movement in old Dhaka and a circular riverine route.

Alhaj Abdus Salam, Former Senior Vice President, DCCI, Haji Md. Abul Hashem, President, Bangladesh Chini Baboshayee Samity, Alimuzzaman Alam, President, Bangladesh Electrical Association, Mohammed Hossain Alamgir, President, Bangladesh Glass Merchant Association, Mohammed Asaduzzaman Selim, Former President, Bangladesh Hardware and Machinery Merchants’Association, Haji Md. Golam Mowla, President, Bangladesh Paikary Vojjaya Tel Babosayee Samity, Mohammad Jalal Uddin, Former Director, FBCCI, Hafez Harun, Director, FBCCI, Khair M Khan, Former Director, DCCI and Alhaj Md. Sharfuddin, Former Director, DCCI also spoke on the occasion. They also urged on one way traffic system, deploying traffic police instead of community police, effective drainage system, hawker free footpath, parking area at the same place of old prison, time-based loading unloading and implementing traffic system.

Published on: 2024-04-02

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