Circular ring road: A long-neglected solution for Dhaka city

Published : Tuesday, 27 February, 2024 at 12:00 AM

Bangladesh has undergone various development projects over the last 15 years, with the capital Dhaka serving as the focal point for the majority of these projects, with the Metro Rail Project and Elevated Expressway emerging as prominent landmarks. Despite all of these advancements and successes, Dhaka, the nations capital, continues to rank among the worlds least habitable cities. The worst issue facing this city is the gridlock in the traffic, which is driving residents nearly insane in addition to the severe air and dust pollution. Roads squander a tremendous amount of resources, particularly time. In order to solve this issue, the government, analysts, and specialists should concentrate on simple remedies and a circular ring road running alongside the four rivers surrounding the capital may be the best option.

Despite comprising only 1% of the nations total territory, Dhaka contributes over 40% of its GDP and has generated 45% of all jobs in the country. Every megacity on the planet experiences traffic congestion during specific times of the day. However, the traffic situation in Dhaka is complete mayhem rather than congestion. The city of Dhaka is expanding haphazardly, resulting in frequent traffic bottlenecks that consume up to 3% of GDP. The experts estimate that the citys traffic congestion costs the nation an additional 6%-10% of its GDP. Additionally, Dhakas air quality was deemed “unhealthy,” with the capital city ranking second worst in the Air Quality Index (AQI) and it is majorly due to the heavy traffic of the city.

Megaprojects like the Padma Bridge have improved communication between the city and the rest of the nation, but a lack of effort and planning has made traffic congestion in Dhaka more severe. Dhaka was already experiencing severe traffic as a result of unlawfully snatched walkways, centralized government buildings, a cluster of educational institutions including universities, poor traffic management, inter-district vehicle movement, and other factors. Now that Dhaka has improved connectivity with Padma Bridge connecting 21 districts to the capital, the citys traffic situation has turned absolutely bizarre.

Ten of the capitals entry points, including the Mayor Hanif flyover, the Postogola Bridge, the Buriganga Bridge, and Bosila Bridge, are currently congested because of the heavy traffic flow from the Padma Bridge. While some Dhaka residents now are benefitting from elevated expressway or metro rail project, this will not significantly lessen traffic congestion. Therefore, in order to save the city, it is crucial to start with simple ways to relieve the traffic bottleneck.

Almost all inter-district vehicle passes through Dhaka city, and the amount of traffic coming from outside the city has expanded significantly in recent years; thanks to the Padma Bridge, Bangabandhu Setu (Jamuna Bridge), Meghna Bridge, Daudkandi Bridge, Bosila Bridge, Gabtoli Bridge, Ashulia Bridge, Tongi Bridge, Kanchon Bridge, Sultana Kamal Bridge, Kanchpur Bridge, AKM Nasim Osman Bridge and several other bridges. Every day, thousands of automobiles, trucks, and buses cross those bridges into Dhaka, and when they mingle with intra-city traffic, the traffic jam gets out of control.

The best way to relieve Dhakas traffic congestion would have been to build ring roads around the metropolis to divert traffic. The August 2016 approval of the Revised Strategic Transport Plan for 2015 to 2035 called for the construction of a 73 km inner ring road, 108 km middle ring road, and 129 km outer ring road that would cut through the capitals flood flow zones in order to divide traffic flow within and between districts.

Since many bridges have connected each of the 64 districts to the capital, automobiles from every district are currently traveling through Dhaka metropolis. In addition to generating excessive traffic, it also pollutes the air and creates noise pollution, which harms the environment. Additionally, it is ruining Dhakas roads.

There are embankments (beribadh) beside the four rivers that encircle Dhaka city: the Balu, Turag, Shitalakhya, and Buriganga. These already exist, and eight lanes can be established-even with a monorail-for a small additional cost. Construction of the Tongi-Sadarghat and Tongi-kanchpur ring roads on these embankments will significantly lessen traffic congestion in Dhaka. Through an automated reduction in traffic load, this will help to develop the city itself and lessen the movement of inter-district vehicles across it. It will also greatly lessen noise pollution and dust inside the city.

The greatest advantage of the proposed circular ring road is that the necessary infrastructure and land is already in place for the constructions. The late President HM Ershads government first took the initiative as through Land Acquisition Case No. 24/88-89 (Gazette on 28 June, 1989) and then later through Land Acquisition Case No. 10/92-93 (Gazette on 24 December, 1995), the then governments acquisitioned the required land for the proposed circular ring road. Now, the government just needs to reclaim the land from illegal occupants. The government needs to only extend the tiny amount of these roads that are now in use.

The construction of the Tongi-Sadarghat and Tongi-Kachpur circular ring road must happen quickly without considering it as a mega project. The government must start with a 100-foot road and work its way up to a 300-foot one. Importantly, the existing highways must not be closed for construction as this will exacerbate the already dire traffic situation of Dhaka. First, a diversion road needs to be built, and only then can complete construction proceed.

A few years ago, Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, requested further action be taken, such as constructing ring roads around the capital to handle the increased traffic after the Padma Bridge opened. We are humbled of the architect of developed Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas emphasis on the ring roads encircling Dhaka as a traffic solution.

Furthermore, more road space should be created alongside these rivers in Dhaka by building the circular ring road. This circular ring road will be far more economical and effective in easing Dhaka citys traffic issue than investing in massive projects like the subway. The administration has already laid out a plan to develop waterways alongside Dhaka city that canter the four rivers that surround the metropolis. It can prove to be an excellent and reasonably priced public transportation choice. It will definitely take a lot of effort to remove illegal riverbank occupancies, but the government could start with vacant property and a strategy so that the land grabbers will get the message automatically.

Moreover, this ring road can add to the beauty of the Dhaka city. With adequate planned plantation alongside the ring road, greenery can prevail. Moreover, the government has already approved cultural institution like Surer Dhara and a childrens park beside Mohammadpur beribadh. Many such institutions, parks and playground can be created alongside the ring road. Moreover, as the communication will improve to a great extent, private universities, large educational institutions, offices, hotels, restaurants and other facilities will automatically decentralize alongside this ring road. Most of our development projects have pushed the people towards Dhaka city. But this ring road can enable much needed decentralization to an extent and that is vital for the survival of Dhaka city.

In addition, we must discover answers for the city of Dhakas current traffic congestion issues. Government functions, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities need to be decentralized. To lessen intra-city migration for education, we must urge parents to enroll their kids in schools and universities at their locality. Roads and walkways that are illegally occupied must be cleared. The method for managing traffic has to be enhanced. In order to lessen traffic congestion, a proper city bus service must be implemented. But whatever we do, the circular ring road will remain the key solution to address the traffic congestion problem of Dhaka city.

We have made significant investments in Dhaka, hence saving the city is essential to ensuring our progress and economic growth. Under the astute leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh became a model of development. This transformation will be related to the sustainability of Dhaka to a great extent. Hence, we expect that the government will move quickly to begin construction of the circular ring roads to save Dhaka and comfort the city dwellers while preserving the capitals environment by reducing air, dust, noise and visual pollution.

The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla

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