The government has not formulated regulations for pedestrians till now although the draft for such regulations was prepared in early 2021.
Rights activists and environmentalists have demanded that the ‘Pedestrians’ Safety Regulations’ be formulated and implemented quickly to ensure safe and comfortable walking for the pedestrians in Dhaka city and other parts of the country.
They said that global energy crisis has also affected Bangladesh. Control of private vehicles can play a vital role in curbing fuel wastage. Despite the fact that almost 60 per cent of the people of Dhaka city travel on foot, the urban transport plan has not ensured a fair environment for walking. However, projects like private car friendly elevated expressways and flyovers have been implemented and the number of private cars has increased manifold.
As a result, problems such as traffic congestion, pollution and accidents have also increased in Dhaka city. Considering the current context and with the aim of reducing the problems caused by the increase in the use of private cars, it is necessary to control the use of private cars and create a pedestrian-friendly environment, said the rights activists and the environmentalists.
They were speaking at a sit-in programme on ‘Rapid Formulation and Implementation of Pedestrians’ Safety Regulations to Save Fuel and Create a Walkable Environment’ in front of the National Press Club in the capital on Sunday (August 7).
Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust, Save the Environment Movement (POBA), Pratyasha Anti-Drug’s Club, Bangladesh Society for the Change and Advocacy Nexus (B-SCAN), Disability Different Program (DDP), Chhayatal Bangladesh, Leo Club of Dhaka Oasis, Rayerbazar High School, and Dhaka Ideal Cadet School jointly arranged the event.
Gaous Pearee, Director at WBB Trust, presided over the event, while Proma Saha, project officer at WBB Trust, moderated the programme. It was addressed, among others, by Naima Akter, project manager at WBB Trust; Tahazzot Hossain, assistant teacher at Rayer Bazar High School; Zakir Hossain, executive director of DDP; Iftekhar Mahmud; coordinator of B-SCAN; Akib Dipu, director at Leo Club of Dhaka Oasis; and Kakoly Quader of Chhayatal Bangladesh.
The speakers said that the government has taken various steps to deal with the energy crisis. The price of energy has already increased in the face of crisis. As a result, the public transport costs and other costs will increase.
However, the number of private cars in Dhaka city is gradually increasing. As a result, not only fuel wastage, traffic congestion, accidents and pollution are also increasing. All these problems can be reduced by controlling the use of private vehicles. For this reason, the control of use of private vehicles alone is not enough. Along with this, it is necessary to ensure a fair environment for walking. Most people in this city are dependent on walking, rickshaws and public transport. Ensuring a safe walking environment will ensure social justice.
Speakers of the event said that although the priority of pedestrians is mentioned in the National Integrated Multimodal Policy of 2013 and the Strategic Transport Plan, there is no reflection of the matter in reality.
The Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) prepared the ‘Pedestrians’ Safety Regulations, 2021’ following the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority Act 2012. The DTCA, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), Dhaka Metropolitan Police, the two city corporations of Dhaka and selected non-government organisations will work for implementing the regulations.
The draft of the regulations has 16 clauses and three schedules. The draft proposes the types of footpaths, responsibilities and duties of pedestrians, transport workers and law enforcers as well as fines for violation and the role of different authorities.
According to the draft regulations, the footpaths must be wide, flat and must have a sufficient number of signs, signals and lighting system as the pedestrians should move safely without any interruption.
The draft says, if anyone is killed or gets injured or sustains damages by the motor vehicles then he or his or her heir would be compensated or provided the treatment cost from the financial support fund under the Road Transport Act, 2018.
Rights activists and environmentalists from the Sunday’s event called upon the government to speedily formulate and implement the ‘Pedestrian Safety Regulations’, taking into consideration the needs of all, including women, children, the elderly, all kinds of disabled persons, and ensuring the priority of pedestrians in travel.
They also called for the constructing and maintaining sidewalks that give pedestrians the highest priority, taking into account all ages, genders, and abilities; creation of easy and safe level crossings (by zebra crossing).
They placed some recommendations that include- provision of lighting on footpaths and roads to ensure safe movement of pedestrians, especially women, at night; ensuring pavement shelters, seating arrangements, drinking water, public toilets; consideration of the needs of persons with disabilities in the installation of sign signals.
The recommendations also urged construction of ramps on sidewalks for wheelchair users; placement of tactile on sidewalks to facilitate the use of visually impaired persons; no obstruction to the uninterrupted movement of pedestrians by construction of infrastructure; regulating the use of private vehicles and stopping illegal parking on sidewalks and roads; bringing sidewalk hawkers under management and introduction of pedestrian-only road system where pedestrian traffic density is high.