Move on to free city streets

Two city corporations in Dhaka will continue eviction drives against encroachers who have illegally built structures on streets and footpaths. Besides, city corporations have finally decided to ban rickshaws from Sunday (July 7) on three major roads in a bid to reduce traffic congestion. Of the three roads, one runs from Kuril to Sayedabad via Rampura and Khilgaon, well known as DIT Road, one from Gabtoli to Azimpur via Asad Gate, well known as Mirpur Road, and the other from the Science Laboratory intersection to the Shahbagh intersection, well known as Elephant Road. Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police together have started a weeklong drive to keep the roads free from rickshaws and other unauthorised vehicles and to evict the footpath grabbers. As part of the drive, DNCC on Wednesday conducted a massive drive and evicted illegal structures from roadsides and footpaths.  A DNCC team led by its Executive Magistrate Sajid Anwar conducted the raid from 11.00 am to 2:30 pm, said DNCC Public Relations Officer (PRO) ASM Mamun.  During the drive, DNCC removed 400 makeshift shops from Mazar Road to Sony Cinema Hall in the city’s Mirpur Section 1 area. It also evicted a plastic market located in the south part and a vegetable market in the east part of Muktijoddha market, DNCC official said. DNCC freed about 40 thousand square feet areas from encroachers during the drive, he said, adding, they will continue eviction drive against the encroachers. Earlier, DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon and DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam on Wednesday informed journalists that rickshaws will not be allowed on the three major roads in the city from Sunday. Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon made the announcement after emerging from a meeting of a special committee formed in this regard at his office on Wednesday. On June 19, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader announced forming the special committee, led by Mayor Sayeed Khokon, at the 12th board meeting of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA). He said, the meeting was the first one since a Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) committee had been formed recently to establish discipline in the capital’s transport sector. 'We have decided to ban rickshaws, legunas, human haulers and other unauthorized vehicles [three-wheelers],” he said.  Asked about the apparent inconvenience to commuters without rickshaws, DSCC Mayor Khokon said transport owners and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) have expressed their determination to address the situation.  “A large number of public transports will be on the roads to address any crisis situation that may arise. Rest assured, that, there will be no room for a monopoly market which could take advantage of the situation as we [city authorities] will monitor the situation closely,” he stressed.   He also said that steps are being taken to free Dhaka’s footpaths from encroachers and remove unauthorized vehicles from the streets in a bid to improve the traffic situation in Dhaka. He said illegal establishments on the walkways will be removed through mobile court by the two city corporations.  A recent study, unveiled by the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) had said that Dhaka’s urban transportation infrastructure needs an extensive overhaul by the government.  It noted that the everyday congestion is not terminal, but rather a nagging problem which could be just as easily solved with dedicated initiatives. Around 58,000 licensed rickshaws are currently plying the streets under the DSCC. The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) says licensed rickshaws and vans are estimated at 28,830 and 2,000 respectively when the Dhaka City Corporation was split into two in November, 2011.  However, the DNCC authorities do not have a revised figure on the number of rickshaws.  According to a 2018 World Bank report, traffic congestion in Dhaka wastes around 3.2 million man hours in a day. It was due to the low average driving speed of seven kilometers an hour, costing the economy billions of dollars.