Culprits behind congestion

Sadiqur Rahman looks at how a number of unauthorised commuting services in the city are creating problems for city dwellers

019Farmgate is one of the busiest spots in Dhaka where thousands of people, irrespective of their professions, have to cross every day. As the area is home to many educational institutions like government and private colleges, high schools, coaching centres and also commercial markets, kitchen shops, hotels and cinema halls, this area remains crowded throughout the day.
Hence, an all time busy and traffic congestion-packed road communication has been developed based on the area linking Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Manik Mia Avenue, Begum Roquiea Avenue and some alleys to Kawranbazar, Satraasta intersection, Tejgaon Industrial area, Mohakhali, Panthapath, East and West Tejturi Bazar area.
While the Avenues are open only for the motorised vehicles, people most often ride human haulers (locally called Leguna) or hire rickshaws to go around the adjacent areas. However, the costlier rickshaw fares make human haulers popular as the transport offers cheap and speedy rides.
At least four human hauler stands are now operating from Farmgate to Nilkhet, Mohammadpur, Mohakhali and Nabisco intersection. Human hauler staffs inform New Age Xtra that, around 70 legunas run on the Nilkhet-New Market route, 48 legunas to Nabisco intersection, 50 to Mohakhali and 47 to Mohammadpur ply on the Farmgate roads every day.
But, none of the four leguna stands have authorised parking spaces thus causing traffic congestions in and around this area. While similar leguna stands in other parts of Dhaka are not busy as the ones in Farmgate, they also contribute to traffic congestion in those areas.

The Farmgate-Nabisco route leguna stand is located just besides the Holy Cross College in the East Tejturi Bazar road of the Farmgate area. Along with the college, there are also the Government Science College with a high school attached to it and the Tejgaon Government High School within 60-70 metres from this spot.
Guardians, students and local businessmen allege that the leguna stand has eaten up much of the already narrow road space leading to traffic congestions during peak-hours. Though, they admit that the transport service is helpful.
Imtiaz Shaown, an eighth grader of the Tejgaon Government High School, shares, ‘I used to ride human-haulers regularly. But I observed that this stand creates traffic congestions and I am delayed by this daily while going to my class and even while returning home.’
Mohammad Ali, spokesperson of the ‘Farmgate-Nabisco route human hauler owners and workers’ association’, tells New Age Xtra, ‘We know about the public suffering. But we have no alternative to this. If the authority will shift the stand from here or to another place, we may not find the similar number of passengers.’
Ali, on behalf of his association, requests the authority to mark a separate lane at their present parking place.
During the last Ramadan, traffic (North) department of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) designated a separate lane at the starting point of Green Road to free the area from traffic congestion caused by the Farmgate-Nilkhet leguna route.
Mohammad Sumon, a human hauler driver of the route, informs New Age Xtra, ‘It is working now. It is also helping the schedule management of the vehicle.’ Previously, the leguna stand used to occupy two-thirds of the street.

New Age Xtra also found traffic congestions occurring at the respective destinations of the leguna routes. Legunas coming from Gabtali, Mohammadpur, Farmgate, Shyamoli and Mirpur take U-turns and again collect passengers at the level crossing in Mohakhali. Locals complain that the turning of the vehicles is one of the main reasons for traffic congestions under the Mohakhali Flyover.
Locals of Khilgaon area inform New Age Xtra that a number of routes of human hauler crisscrossing Khilgaon level crossing create severe traffic congestion at the area. Currently, leguna routes based on Khilgaon Sipahibag to Gulistan via Khilgaon rail gate, Goran to Gulistan via Khilgaon rail gate, Khilgaon rail gate to Malibagh intersection and Shajahanpur Aamtala to Gulistan are carrying hundreds of passengers every day.
Sudipto Ahmed, a private university graduate who used to travel through the routes regularly, regrets, ‘They (human hauler drivers) park their vehicles just on the road and clog the traffic flow. The situation is the worst around 11:00am when classes end in the nearby schools.’
While illegal car parking is remaining unabated that contributes to troublesome traffic congestion in the capital, unaothorised parking by passenger carriers on the road has only been making the situation more insoluble.
Recently, a passenger carrying microbus service has been developed without route permit in the Hatirjheel link road. These buses begin their trips from the TCB building area at Kawranbazar and the trip ends at Rampura of the city.
Officials and roadside traders of the TCB building area allege that the service, though helping hundreds of passengers, creates traffic congestions at the TCB building intersection.
Abul, a microbus owner of the service, informs New Age Xtra that, around 25 microbus owners are operating the services. ‘We have to manage the traffic police and local political gangs as there is no route permit for such services,’ Abul says.
Abul admits that the service creates traffic jam in the area. He continues, ‘As there is no mass transport system developed especially for the Hatirjheel link road, our service is helping the passengers.’
When asked about the issue, DMP joint commissioner (traffic North) Mosleh Uddin, tells New Age Xtra, ‘I am not informed about the microbus service. If they have no route permits, they are violating the law as they are not allowed to park in this area. I will look into the matter.’
According to the DMP Ordinance 1976, people responsible for wrong parking (section 66) or causing obstruction in any street (section 68.a.b) shall be punishable with fine which may extend to one hundred taka.
Mosleh Uddin, however, suggests that Dhaka City Corporations (North and South) authorities should designate more parking places for the mass transport so that traffic police can strictly implement rules and regulations.
Despite repeated attempts by New Age Xtra, chief engineers of Dhaka North and South City Corporations, responsible for parking and other factors related to the streets, were not available to comment on the issue.