Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The saga of dhaka's first ever flyover

Dhaka is now suffering the Bangkok syndrome. Endless traffic jams. Oblivious to all, the authorities went full steam ahead and built the flyover at Mohakhali – a crucial junction between one industrial area, a rich/diplomatic neighbourhood and the main road to the international airport.
Unfortunately, as a direct consequence of the flyover, the snarl-ups have now moved to in front of the PM’s office!
The Communication Czars must think this is like a game of Lego. You just keep adding parts and it will be solved. The latest brainwave is to build a tunnel at the end of the flyover to Agargaon (NW Dhaka). It will shift the tailbacks to near where the new World Bank offices are sited in Agargaon!
Small mercies. Does it matter? Yes, because the World Bank is financing the Dhaka Urban Transport Project. Something that could have been plucked from the sixties. Car-centric, road based and, in the best traditions of the Bank, anti-poor.
Some of us are trying to formulate an alternative transportation policy that is based on public transport but allows room for the private car and rickshaw. Why? Because the middle class should be allowed to enjoy the car. As long as it doesn’t take up unfair space on the road (as now). And transport is a big job provider. It is a labour intensive industry and until we find something else for the rickshaw puller, let him earn an income. Give him a rickshaw-cycle lane to smooth the traffic & let’s provide training.
If you have any innovative ideas, please share them with us. We cannot just criticise the Bank. We have to provide an alternative policy.

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