Domino effect

Shoppers and city planners tell Sadiqur Rahman how shoppers’ preference to certain shopping hubs of the city are intensifying the traffic congestion problem prior to Eid 

Sanaul Haque

Sanaul Haque

We are less than two weeks away from this year’s Eid-ul Fitr, the biggest religious festival for muslims around the world. With Eid knocking on the door, shoppers are thronging the many city shopping centres of the city, thus intensifying traffic congestion around the prominent shopping hubs.
Alike previous Eid shopping seasons, shoppers, mostly female and youth, are concentrating on shops that sell clothes, footwear, ornaments, cosmetics and other fashion accessories. There is also a demand for utensils, decorative furniture, show pieces, bed sheet, curtains, refrigerators, woven and other cookeries items, as many shop owners share with New Age Xtra. Moreover, buyers are purchasing and stocking food items like varieties of vermicelli, sweet, curd and milk prior to the nine-day long leave for the festival.
Commonly, female shoppers dominate the shopping population. While writing this report, New Age Xtra talked to some shoppers who shared their shopping experiences in the busiest shopping centres of the city. They also added that scorching hot weather as well as traffic congestion in the city roads, even though discomforting, are not really affecting their shopping spree.

Sanaul Haque

Sanaul Haque

But, during Ramadan before the Eid-ul Fitr, citizens roaming around the city for different purposes, besides shopping, have to suffer due to the traffic congestion aggravated by Eid shopper movements. Considering people’s suffering, city planners, shoppers and concerned government officials have for long been stressing on the importance of decentralised shopping hubs, which are mostly concentrated on the Mirpur Road, Elephant Road and Panthapath.
During the recent decade, a number of multipurpose shopping malls and fashion houses-local and international, have mushroomed in different areas of the city due to increasing popular demand. But the Eid shoppers still prefer the shopping hubs, especially the Dhaka New Market, where they can find all products in one area.
Raisa Sabila, a resident of Old Dhaka, shares last week that she has already visited Dhaka New Market, Bashundhara city shopping complex and shopping zones in Bailey Road and Wari. Shopping malls and fashion houses in Wari are very near to her residence. She says, ‘Eid shopping means more roaming around to me than shopping.’
She adds that Wari shopping zone is developing as a popular shopping hub gradually as almost all the popular fashion houses have opened outlets in the area. Besides, many small boutiques and super shops are also there from where shoppers can find everything.
Domino-effect3Raisa says, ‘I usually go to New Market when I need unstitched dress, not readymade garments because there are not as many options in Wari. I think Wari shoppers still go to the Dhaka New Market area and Bashundhara City Shopping Complex (BCSC) as the fashion houses here do not allow bargaining as the prices are fixed. Usually we, females, do not find shopping as pleasing until they can bargain with the price.’
Raisa observes that the product price range of the prominent fashion outlets is not within the reach of all classes.
Amrin Wazed, a resident of West Dhanmondi of the city, feels that shoppers can find quality products at cheaper prices at the New Market. She says, ‘Everything is available there, from clothes to household items.’ Amrin also echoes with Raisa that female shoppers love to bargain before making a purchase. ‘However, most shops in my residential area stick to the fixed price policy, which dampens the shopping spirit,’ she says.
Almost all the prominent fashion houses have opened their outlets in Dhanmondi.
After visiting the Dhanmondi Imperial Plaza, Shimanto Square and Metro shopping mall, Amrin has plans to visit Domino-effect4New Market and BCSC for shopping before Eid. ‘I will buy fashion accessories, footwear and cookeries items from the shopping centres,’ Amrin tells New Age Xtra.
Shabnam Mehar, a resident of Gulshan area, tells New Age Xtra that the Dhaka North City Corporation Market 1 and 2 located in Gulshan offer every shopping item including clothes, jewelry, ornaments, cosmetics, footwear, cookeries, foods and furniture. Besides, many local and foreign brands of dress and footwear for all ages have their outlets in the area.
‘But residents of the area still visit New Market and BCSC for better options. Perhaps, a lower number of shops offering specific items like readymade garments, footwear, cookeries or food can not satisfy the shoppers who usually want to buy a product after going through plenty of options,’ she feels.
Shabnam, an alumnus from the University of Dhaka, used to shop from the New Market. She says, ‘I am habituated with shopping in the market where everything is available within a single compound. Hence, this is up to the shoppers’ choice who finds trusted shops in a particular area. Even though it is tough to reach the area or there are options in the nearby areas of residence, shoppers will visit their favourite shopping centres no matter what.’
However, Dhaka metropolitan police (DMP) traffic division share with New Age Xtra that the more shoppers pour into a particular shopping hub, increased vehicle movement intensifies traffic congestion on city roads linking the shopping hubs.
Domino-effect5Shoppers with private vehicles are bigger problems for traffic policemen as these cars are usually parked on the roads leading to more congestion problem. But the more prominent transport modes are rickshaws and CNG-run three wheelers.
According to the DMP traffic division, the contributing fact for the traffic congestion during Eid shopping is most of the prominent shopping centres do not have proper parking facilities.
Also, rickshaw pullers and three-wheelers are not allowed to enter the vicinity of some shopping centres causing these to drop their passengers off on the road by the malls.
Rajib Das, the senior assistant police commissioner of the DMP (traffic) tells New Age Xtra, ‘BCSC has a parking facility for only 800 private cars. Often when the parking lot can no longer accommodate cars for the day, car owners park their vehicles on the busy Panthapath road.’
He continues, ‘Unauthorised parking narrows city road. Hence the traffic police find it difficult to cope with greater number of vehicles parked on Mirpur Road [for New Market], Elephant Road and Panthapath.’
According to Rajib, the traffic movement increases at noon and continues till 10:00PM during the month of Ramadan. He informs that DMP has deployed additional forces to remedy peoples suffering on the roads prior to Eid shopping.
However, concerned shoppers think that citizens also can play a role to reduce traffic flow during this time.
Raisa says, ‘May be the issue can be tackled if the shoppers can leave their cars, rickshaws or three-wheelers a bit far from the shopping centre and reach their destination by foot. Shopping early before the market places get overcrowded may also be helpful.’
Shabnam says, ‘Market expansion is important to reduce pressure on some particular shopping hubs. Also local residents have to know about more available options in their locality to avoid traffic congestion in the city.’

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