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Delayed opening of flyovers: where lies the fault?
Shahiduzzaman Khan

          Citizens of the capital city are now tired of hearing the changes in dates for opening the Mohakhali and Khilgaon flyovers. The authorities are shifting the dates after dates without showing appropriate reasons as if they have fallen victims to the whims of Mother Nature. The ministers, responsible of the ministries concerned, do not appear to share the agonies of the citizenry. They only do occasional visits to the sites and announce further shifting of their launching dates.
Where lies the fault? Newsmen visiting the sites reported a very slow progress of the Mohakhali flyover. Communications Minister Nazmul Huda announced a final opening date, that being the first week of October next. But the implementing agency of the flyover -- the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) -- is not that much optimistic. Insiders of the RHD say the ground is not mature enough to open the flyover within the stipulated time. The work is going on at a snail's pace. The authorities, however, failed to pinpoint the exact problems.
The situation with the Khilgaon flyover is also not that much encouraging. The implementing agency -- the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) -- has not said anything about the launching of the flyover for quite a long time. The agency is clever enough to shy away from the media. But the minister concerned -- none other than Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan -- was reported to have said the work of the flyover was going on smoothly and it (flyover) will be open to public very soon.
The government's motive behind awarding the job to the LGED is not also clear. The RHD authorities claimed that the LGED was allowed to enter into their territory illegally. It's not the job of the LGED to construct a huge infrastructure like a flyover. Basically, LGED's terms of reference (TOR) stipulates construction of feeder roads-types I and II, rural roads, small bridges and culverts, they added. However, confusion remains upbeat as to 'who is to build what' as the LGED's version was not available.
Sitting on a huge chunk of donors' money, the government agency has the widespread 'reputation' of serving a section of country's top bureaucrats and politicians with brand new cars (mostly Pajero-type jeeps imported for project use) and other perks. Allegations have it that the agency has the capability of 'managing' every thing -- from top-notchers' desk to bottom level.
Now the flood deluge is wreaking havoc in the capital city and elsewhere. The implementing agencies are likely to brace for finding fresh excuses that the launching of the flyovers will be further delayed on account of flood emergencies. If that happens, there will be no end to the sufferings of the commuters.
Imagine the two third of the capital city is now under the grip of swelling floods. Most of the flood protection embankments (with the exception of DND) gave in and the floodwaters have entered busy thoroughfares of Gulshan, Motijheel. Rampura, Kamalapur, Mugdapara, Ahmedbagh, Sabujbagh, part of Mirpur, Aminbazar and the low-lying areas of the capital. Commuting is becoming increasingly dangerous with the rise in floodwaters. As most of the roads have been inundated, vehicular traffic moves at a snail's pace and very often is caught under the Gordian knot of the traffic jam. No way, we have to live with it. Only the flyovers under review could come to the rescue in such a situation. Who knows when these are going to open?
In New Delhi, a number of flyovers, built within a record time of only six months, consolidated the position of the Congress government at the state level and removed the nagging traffic jams to a considerable extent. Critics were skeptical about operation of the flyover project over there and they were charging the Delhi government of wasting taxpayers' money. But when the project yielded in positive result, there was no more criticism. Same thing happened with Bangkok.
The sprawling city was having a severe traffic jam. Taxicabs did not dare go any part of the Sukumbhit (central part of Bangkok) due to unbearable jam. When the Thai government undertook a crash programme to build a number of flyovers at busy intersections and implemented those in a hurry, things came to near normal. The volume of traffic in Thailand is so enormous that the Thai capital needs some more flyovers to cater to the needs of the growing traffic.
When the country lags far behind in the construction of flyovers, Communications Minister sounded optimistic about building monorail, sidewalks and waterways traffic around Dhaka city.
The Dhaka Urban Transport Coordination Project is reported to be working diligently with a view to give the city a clean look. Yet multiple problems remain. Some good gesture on the part of government agencies and the responsible citizens is expected to contribute a lot in the city's beautification programme. The SAARC summit is expected to be held in the city soon. All-out efforts should, therefore, be made to make the city acceptable to our honoured guests.


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