Urban Governance in Relation to Traffic Congestion of Dhaka City

Traffic Management, Policy Malfunction, Institutional Arrangement

Term Paper, 2012

8 Pages



Modern day cities mug with dual hitches, explicitly traffic congestion along with urban decay or unplanned urbanization. Traffic congestion creates loss of precious man-hours and reduces productivity of both the states and organizations. Road traffic congestion poses a challenge for all large cities, is key concern throughout the world. Some of the countries, through effective transport system, have acquired an appreciable level of development when effectively managed. Learned experts on this subject have so far suggested a range of measures to lessen traffic congestion in our country, but results are not encouraging even it is spiraling day-by-day in Dhaka city due to policy malfunction that is for lack of political will as well as public awareness. The state be worthy of effective urban governance for a careful balancing between the benefits of agglomeration and the impacts of excessive traffic congestion.

1.1 Rationale of the Study

Dhaka is a mega city, the capital of Bangladesh with 2000 square kilometers of area and about 12 million populations. Dhaka is the administrative, commercial and cultural centre of the country and also continues to serve as the traditional centre of wholesale trade. The road networks cover about 3000 km, vehicle population of this city is around 450000 (Siddique & Iffat, 2011). Metropolitan Dhaka accounts for nearly 40 percent of total urban population in Bangladesh. The cost of congestion and accidents in the city is $520 million per annum which is quite alarming. As this city continues its growth toward the anticipated 36 million people in 2024 and beyond, the requirement for a sustainable system will become even more acute. The challenge for the transport sector is to deliver a system that is safe, affordable, comfortable and available for a large segment of population.

1.2 Contents and Objectives

This report provides an overview of the state of urban governance in Bangladesh that discussed about the present status of traffic congestion in Dhaka city and will put forward policy oriented recommendations for effective traffic congestion to smooth livelihood. It also provides a fundamental overview of nature, scope of congestion necessary for effective congestion management policy. This report aims to provide policy makers, technical staff and policy implementers with the strategic vision, conceptual frameworks and guidance’s that necessary to manage congestion to reduce its overall impact on individuals, families, communities and societies.


2.1 Overview on Transportation

Population growth leads to increased demand for travel and population pressures which in turn leads to spatial expansion of urbanized areas and to increased journey lengths. The existing transportation system is a major bottleneck for the development of the city. Unplanned urbanization, especially poor transportation planning and lower land utilization efficiency has turned the city into an inefficient transport facilities provider. The transportation system of Dhaka is predominantly road based and non-motorized transportation with few alternative connector roads. Most of the residential areas are unplanned, informal where little or no planning for roads haze occurred, and existing roads are disorganized, narrow and circuitous alleys.

The major roads in Dhaka include Mirpur Road (north-westerly), Rokeya Sharani (north-westerly), Airport Road and Pragati Sharani (northerly), Dhaka-Chittagong Road (easterly), and Sylhet Road (north-easterly), Dhaka-Narayanganj Road (south-easterly) and Mawa Road (southerly) all leading toward the main areas of city center (Siddique & Iffat, 2011). Different overpass in Dhaka city is primed, many shopping centers, educational institutes are raised here and there without any planned way of concern.

2.2 Context of Traffic Congestion

Dhaka’s transportation system struggles to cope with the demand of an increasing population. It is characterized by congestion, high pollution levels, high numbers of accidents, and high user costs. The increase in the number of inefficient modes, such as cars, in recent years has exacerbated the situation. The number of private cars has increased from 87,866 in 2003 to 1, 15,880 in 2007. The total vehicle fleet registered is 128000 and the vehicle fleet amounts to 316000. With a population of approximately 12 millions, this results in an auto ownership of approximately 13 per one thousand populations and a vehicle ownership of 32 per one thousand (DTCB, 2005). Dhaka’s roads struggle to accommodate the demands of their traffic. Traffic jams worsen when vehicles to park use one or even two lanes. Unlike most mega-cities, several forms of transport use Dhaka’s roads. Each has different operational characteristics. Road users, such as cars, buses and baby taxis are not known for the respect they give either to traffic rules or to each other. Pedestrians, too, often choose to ignore the rules of the road.

2.3 State of Urban Governance

Different governmental organizations for transport system in Dhaka city consist of Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB) that provides the overall coordination of various aspects of project preparation and implementation. A strategic transport plan for Dhaka city’s transport system has been prepared. The strategic plan has proposed a number of short, medium, and long-term measures to cope with the city’s traffic problems like the construction of elevated expressways and a metro rail system but not implemented yet. Effective interfacing is needed to integrate the various transport modes, so that users can transfer from one mode to another effectively and efficiently.


3.1 Policy and Legitimacy

3.1.1 Motor Vehicle Laws:

The Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1983 was meant to regulate traffic but applies to motor vehicles only; there is no option for traffic congestion issues. Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance 1976 has minor provisions against NMVs, regulation not framed for traffic control, not preferred because maximum fine taka 10 only. Traffic Control and Public Vehicle Bye-laws 1973 was formulated but not implemented properly.

3.1.2 National Land Transport Policy:

Government of Bangladesh approved the NLT P in 2004 that includes the provision of safe and dependable transport service, and improving the regulatory and legal framework objectives. This is designed to play an important role in helping reduce the transport costs of goods; it also introduces an integrated multimodal transport system, linking road, rail and water transport (NLTP, 2004).

3.1.3 Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy:

Under the last government a draft Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy was prepared but has not yet been approved. It is designed to build upon the National Land Transport Policy and help in achieving more rational and balanced investments across transport modes and achieve better coordination.

3.1.4 Perspective Plan:

Bangladesh has taken a perspective plan (2010-2021) in transport sector to improve Dhaka’s traffic scenario especially for improving road safety and reducing traffic congestion. The major targets of the perspective plan are to improving traffic management to optimize available road capacity as well as increase in traffic management staff in their operational efficiencies and introducing an integrated transport (PPB, 2010).

3.1.5 Urban Transport Policy (Draft):

National Land Transport Policy 2004 has to plan for the future with a coordinated approach to transport and land uses as to maximize resources and minimize adverse impacts on the people. In order to achieve these objectives, the government has commissioned a long-term transportation planning study for the greater Dhaka that provided the document but not yet been implemented (UTP, 2004).

3.1.6 Transport Policy Note:

In April, 2009 Transport Policy Note is formulated by Transport Unit for facing the existing problems. The policy note provides guidance to the Bank in its dialogue with the Government of Bangladesh on the strategic priorities in the sector and the areas where the Bank can provide the most support consistent with the overall strategic objectives of the Bank in the transport sector (TPN, 2009).

3.1.7 Parking Policy (Draft):

DTCB has taken the initiative in order to outline the strategies to reduce the negative effects of parking. This is to be achieved by formulating a parking policy to provide a guideline for working out strategies to handle the increasing demand for parking spaces within the area. In order to effectively manage the parking facilities, the parking policy should suggest the appropriate institutional setup required and it also suggest the supportive legislations required to make this effective (PP, 2002).

3.2 Institutional Framework

Different governmental organizations for transport system in Dhaka city includes Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB), Dhaka City Corporation (DCC), Rajdhani Unnayaun Katripakha (RAJUK), Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) while DTCB provides the overall coordination of project preparation and implementation (Siddique & Iffat, 2011).


The main challenges results from insufficient allocation of resources, poor planning and inadequate policies influenced by political agendas.

4.1 Grounds of Traffic Congestion

The prime cause is urbanization; the next one may be the problem of matching supply and demand of transportation infrastructure but the poor traffic management schemes is a key cause, the grounds of traffic congestion heads are below.

4.1.1 Network and Structure

Insufficient road space: The roads of Dhaka are narrow and insufficient for allowing the traffic to pass. Due to lack of control, the roads have got little wider gradually in northern areas yet falling much short to meet the requirement.

Inadequate foot over-bridge: At places the movement of people on road is so unavoidable that it causes the vehicles to stop or slowdown. A good arrangement of over bridges could contribute much in solving this problem.

Broken roads: Roads with innumerable potholes, a cloud of dust, accumulated water in the ditches and smoke blowing over the commuter's face as vehicles pass by are features symbolic of the putrid state of the city.

Many level crossings: Traffic movement comes to a grinding halt for at least 10 to 15 minutes each time when a train passes through any busy intersection. It is worth mentioning that there are about 20 rail gates within the Dhaka city.

4.1.2 Law and Policy

Poor policing: Our traffic polices are mere poor in front of the requirement; they are really under-strength, poor-trained, without sufficient logistic backup and finally corrupt. That’s why the traffic remains out of their grip and the enforcement of law.

Faulty signaling: The signaling system at the crosses of Dhaka is very old. This manual signaling is not helpful in managing the incoming traffic. At places this signal system fails to cope up with the requirement of the time and the direction of the traffic.

Fragile laws: The laws in vogue for controlling the traffic have to commensurate with the population and the requirement of situation. If the amount of population and vehicle cannot be controlled then the traffic control system and law will always fail.

Faulty licensing: Due to faulty licensing system the number of privately owned and operated motor vehicles registered in the five years to 2008 was double that of the previous five years in the Dhaka mega-city.

Illegal parking: Another major source of traffic jam is the unruly buses. In many cases the bus stops have been placed either at the turnings or next to the traffic lights. This irresponsible attitude of people occupies the space left for traffic.

4.1.3 Imperfect Management

Shops and hawkers: It is a residential area or a market or an office area either hawkers or extension of shops have occupied the last bit space available for the vehicles to ply and none to look after the issue and help the city to remain jam free.

Special situations: Traffic-jam takes serious turn during the holy month of Ramadan, during rainy season and during special occasions like Bishwa Iztema, Trade fair etc and there is no contingency of the government to tackle these special situations.

Rickshaw haulers: There are as good as 400000 of rickshaw on the road of Dhaka when only 80000 of them are licensed by the DCC authority. Rests of the non-motorized human haulers are one of the major causes of traffic jam in Dhaka (URP 2004).

Institutional coordination: DCC, RAJUK, WASA, DESA keeps on working on the roads of Dhaka and these urban amenities do not have any co-ordination, they wait for each other to finish and start their job and they keep on excavating on earth.

4.2 Challenges of Urban Governance

The main challenges result from insufficient allocation of resources, poor planning and inadequate policies influenced by political agendas. The major challenges of governance are depicts under the following heads.

4.2.1 Structural Challenges

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority issues on average 188 vehicle registrations everyday in an unplanned and indiscriminate way; there is also absence of public awareness campaigns on road safety, school curricula do not include road safety lessons for students; absence of planning, policy decisions and guidelines to control the number of motor and non-motor vehicles in metropolitan areas; Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1983 was meant to regulate traffic but applies to motor vehicles only, there is no option for traffic congestion issues; DMP Ordinance 1976 has minor provisions against NMVs, regulation not framed for traffic control, not preferred because maximum fine taka 10 only; Absence of orientation on road safety management issues and lack of incentives for the members of RTC, DTCB, DCTB, City Corporations; Dhaka Transport Coordination Board, which is very vital for management of Dhaka transport, has not been made effective.

4.2.2 Institutional Challenges

BRTA is institutionally capable enough to act as a regulatory body, but its manpower has not increased in the last 20 years now BRTA cannot execute its functions; control over vehicles, including operation of mobile courts, becomes difficult due to lack of sufficient and trained manpower, logistics and vehicles; vehicle fitness and driving test are hampered due to lack of space within the congested city areas as well as apparatus; more than 90% of BRTA's man-hours are mostly devoted to client services as a result, vehicle control and road safety matters are almost ignored; about 74% traffic police have no power of prosecution, traffic police not empowered to investigate accident cases and lack of necessary equipment; road transport trade unions and transport terminal committees remain under control of political influence due to absence of accountability and integrity in BRTA; lack of coordination among various service providing government institutions, e.g. BRTA, DTCB, RHD, DCC, Metropolitan Police, WASA, BTCL etc.

4.2.3 Policy-level Challenges

Vehicle operators and associations stay outside of transparency and accountability; they maintain their lobbying with central political heads. There are no effective laws and mechanisms to confirm the rights of the professional drivers and there is no audit system to check how the money. Due to the lack of a regulatory framework and government proactive actions to promote public private partnerships in transport infrastructure financing and management are not pleasantry. Achieving a balanced and coordinated transport system has not been possible because the Government does not have a system for coordinating development plans and budgets.


Many strategies can help to improve travel speeds, increase system reliability, and mitigate the impacts of congestion. The congestion management strategies can be divided into four broad classes: improving traffic operation, improving public transport, implementing mobility management, modifying existing infrastructure.

5.1 Policy-level Governance

Car/Bus sizes: There must be a policy for motor vehicles in cities areas to determine the number and types of motor vehicle like small sizes of private cars, large sizes public transports and appropriate implementation of car sharing must be ensured.


Excerpt out of 8 pages


Urban Governance in Relation to Traffic Congestion of Dhaka City
Traffic Management, Policy Malfunction, Institutional Arrangement
Institute of Governance Studies
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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urban, governance, relation, traffic, congestion, dhaka, city, management, policy, malfunction, institutional, arrangement
Quote paper
Mohammad Abdul Salam (Author), 2012, Urban Governance in Relation to Traffic Congestion of Dhaka City, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/285991


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