Transport: A Sector for energetic, intelligent and educated youths

Transport: A Sector for energetic, intelligent and educated youths

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Transport: A Sector for energetic, intelligent and educated youths

There is a lack of intelligent, educated and modern minded youth in transport business. Because this sector is famous as a complex, indiscipline and degraded sector so young businessmen are not interested in this port sector, drawing away its problem and complexities, Mr. Khaled Mosharrof, Owner of Khaled Rent a car, is the Youngest. He has been involved in this transport business after obtaining highest degree from CSE. In lieu of weak and inexpert management, Mr. Khaled is working to build up an efficient and powerful management system. Recently we had an interview with him where he spoke frankly and freely about transport sector

N.N: Young businessmen are not interested in transport sector for its complex and indiscipline atmosphere. How did you come?

K.M: I think that transport is profitable sector for education and intelligent young businessman. Energetic and intelligent young men must have to come forward to bring modernity to this sector. Because only young people can receive and fulfill a challenge. All the problems and hardness of this business will be driven away easily if young people come forward. Government should adopt special project to inspire young businessmen of this sector. I have been involved in this business with the consciousness of making a modern and public serving transport industry.

N.N: What problems and difficulties did you have to face in the beginning?

K.M: At first I had to face different kinds of problems. Especially when I went to meet the highest authority of any bank or big organization as owner, they were in a hesitant mood for my age. But they were convinced when I negotiated with them on different issues. In this way I hadn’t to gain their confidence by proving my accountability. Secondly, I had to suffer much to attract the attention of old transport businessmen to modern conceptions. Many businessmen want to work in old ordinary methods but we want to advance with new modern ideas and conception. Like online call system or like App systems.

N N: Government has arranged taxi-cab as the transport vehicle of middle class in lieu of scooters, but taxi cab has not succeeded to gain the acceptability of the middle class for its high fare. What is your comment about this?

K.M: Taxi- Cab can easily be turned into a middle class transport if the government takes some necessary steps. At present we are to import a taxi cab by paying 300% tax. If the government gives the permission of importing CNG engine car on 0% tariff, then the fare will be decreased as well as the importing cost. In this way the taxi cab will be available within the capability of the middle class. If it is done, a large amount of foreign currency of the government will be saved which is now being wasted yearly by importing petroleum.

N.N: What is the future of transport sector?

          K.M: Our modern transport system has started its journey very recently. There is a big market of transport business is expanding rapidly. Real competition has not yet started for the lack of sufficient businessmen. Financial and other government help is required to fulfill the demand of the market and to build up a public serving transport sector.

Communication and Transport

Communication and Transport

The airports at Bangkok and Singapore are stretched to their seams. Dhaka should be in a position to handle diverted international traffic. But that would require, better airport services and facilities, urgent conversion of Chittagong airport into an international one; and upgrading Sylhet airport to handle non-resident Bangladeshi traffic from the United Kingdom.

A ADEQUATE infrastructural facilities for power, telecommunication and transport are essential prerequisites for economic growth. I have written about elusive energy and the lagging telecommunication services in this column earlier. Today, I shall write about the need for efficient communication and multiple forms of transport, so necessary for moving not just people but also industrial freight along an inter modal network. What follows is basically an effort at collating analytical materials from knowledge sources and it borrows extensively from a long run prospective study, namely, Bangladesh 2020.

A major transformation that is gaining momentum in Bangladesh is the pace of urbanization. Bangladesh has essentially been a rural country with four out of five inhabitants living in the countryside. By the year 2020 nearly every other child woman and man will live in an urban center. Given past and present trends. Greater Dhaka as a mega-city will grow by more than double in terms of population, with the port city of Chittagong closely following.

Urbanization will be squared along the Tongi-Joydebpur Gazipur corridor with new road and perhaps computer train link between Dhaka-Joydebpur. Road improvements will facilitate urban development along the Sripur-Bhaluka-Gafargaon-Trisal-Mymensingh corridor. Further if a road bye pass and commuter train as well link Dhaka-comilla-Feni Chitagong with the northern corridor, Tongi-Joydebpur-Gazipur in particular, that will reduce pressure on Dhaka city and more importantly integrate nortern districts with the economic hub of the south.

Commissioning of Bangabandhu bridge over the river Jamuna will enhance the importance of Rajshahi metropolitan area as a regional center of the western districts. New physical links between eastern and northern frontier states of India coupled with the conservation of the single-track railway along Sirajganj-Ishwardi-Rajshahi to a double line broad-gauge railway and the proposed meter gauge railway along Sirajganj-Bogra will further augment the importance of Rajshahi metropolitan area and the growth of other urban centers in the western districts, namely, Nawabganj, Bogra, Naogaon, Sirajganj, Joypurhat and Natore. Similarly, districts towns in the northwest like Gaibanda, Nilphamari, Kurigram, Dinajpur and Lalmonirhat will also blossom, if the regional transport-links are there.

Another important consideration for decentralized urbanization for decentralized urbanization is the growth of thousands of market-towns, the most important prerequisite being investment in trans portation infrastructure. World Bank’s Rural Infrastructure Study (1996) has identified 2100 of such growth centers.

Within this spatial scenario of urbanization, it is important to upgrade the road network linking divisional district Thana and market town centers. Such improvement will greatly help the private sector to take over inter-city passenger traffic thus allowing the railway system to reorganize itself into a predominantly freight moving profile.’ Also important is to expedite improvement is to expedite improvement of standard of major highways as has been done in the case of Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar road link.

Another urgent task is the construction of Dhaka by-pass, connecting the south with the North and North and Northwest through the Bangabandhu bridge. It is worth remembering that as and when the Asian Highway is completed, this historic bridge will bear the traffic passing through Bangladesh. And that presupposes considerable expansion and upgrading of existing roads and highways.

A proposed bridge over the Ganges at Paksey will open up the Mongla port for commercial/industrial freight from Nepal and Bhutan. A happy announcement by no less a leader than the prime Minister of Bangladesh herself regarding a bridge over Padma will not only bring the eastern and southern parts of the country together, but also halve the distance between Dhaka and Khulna. Mongla port will be in real business then.

Again, as the document Bangladesh 2020 notes: “some medium scale bridges such as one over Meghna at Bhairab Bazar, one over Rupsa at Khulna and one over Karnaphully at Chittagong could bring nearly all parts of country under a single roads and highways network. Especially as a participant in improving the urban network including some urban network including some urban bypasses such as the one east of Dhaka city on a BOT basis for instance the private sector can become a major player Bangladesh’s transport network,”

Let me now make a transition from roads to railway.

Exclusively state owned, the ledger book of Bangladesh Railways has been heavily in the red. An encouraging initiative by the government is to progressively hand over passenger traffic in inter-city routes like Dhaka -Chittagong, Dhaka – Sylhet and Dhaka-Rajshahi to the private sector. Why not handover the maintenance of inter-city trains to private operators? What is important for future, however, is to restructure the profile of the railways for freight traffic, especially container transport. In that context, improvement of critical routes like Dhaka-Chittagong to handle high volume of traffic rapidly and reliably is most urgent.

Also, in the context of the Trans Asian Railway routes, Bangladesh is in a strategic location. The two possible routes, so far envisaged, are through Sylhet and through Cox’s Bazar. The routes will connect Southeast Asia-Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore-with India and Central Asia. If Bangladesh upgrades its existing railways to international standard, she can earn enviable revenues.

Again, as between meter gauge in the east and a combination of broad and meter gauge to the west of the Jamuna bridge, there is a similar division between South east Asia (meter) and south and Central Asia (broad). “Bangladesh” as the 2020 document notes,” is thus well positioned to develop a hub to switch gages at Sirajganj on land to be reclaimed along the western guide bund” of the bridge.

Having said all that, let me turn to the cheapest and traditional water transport. With waterways of 25.000 kilometer, it is naturally so. But due to heavy situation coming down from the upper reaches, lack of dredging and river-training, the water ways are severely hindered and sometimes a deathly menace. But planned development with both private and public initiatives can make that a blessing, rather than a curse. The ten inland ports in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chandpur, Barisal, Patuakhali, Khulna, Narsingdi, Bhairab Bazar, Azmiriganj and Baghabari, need immediate improvement and upgrading Some of the ports such as Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chandpur, Baghabari and Asmiriganj should be developed as container ports with private sector participation. Some of the trunk routes such as Ajmiriganj – Chandpur, Baghabari- Chilmari should be maintained on a priority basis.” The coasted regions need to be connected with the rest of the country by rapid and reliable transport.

The greatest opportunity, however, lies in Chittagong port as the gateway for regional freight – traffic for destinations abroad. But what is the current state of the art in that dismal port ? “Moving a container through Chittagong costs $600 compared to norms of $ 150 to $300 at neighboring ports. Bangladesh’s competitiveness is so compromised by such in efficiency that the costs to the economy were estimated at $100 million in 1995 and are expected to reach about $170 million per year by 1999. The forecast for container throughout is as follows:

1999        395,000 TEU

2005        554,000 TEU

2010        737,000 TEU

2020        780,000 TEU

An examination of existing capacities and future growth of container traffic suggest that the optimum solution might be to develop the existing container facilities using the private sector (Bangladesh 2020, UPL 1998)”

Mongla port, as mentioned earlier can handle bulk freight. Another possible option is a deep-sea port at the mouth of Shibsa, south of Mongla.

Turning from land and water to the yonder blue of wide-open sky, the golden eagle for Bangladesh is state-owned Biman. Lack of adequate fleet, factionalism and apathy have plagued the services in the past. A welcome initiative has been the induction of private operators in selected domestic routes, More scope remains including leasing out of unused airports (e.g, Shamsernagar or Thakurgaon) to private enterprise for operation and maintenance. Also, and perhaps more important is to corporatize and progressively privatize Bitman. An important first step is to bring professional management and appropriate strategic partners. Only thus, the national airline can cope with rising passenger and cargo-traffic, particularly on international routes, so important for an outward looking and growing economy.

Also, today, the airport at Bangkok and Singapore are stretched to their seams. Dhaka should be in a position to handle diverted international traffic. But that would require, better airport services and facilities, urgent conversion of Chittagong airport into an international one; and upgrading Sylhet airport to handle non-resident Bangladesh traffic from the United Kingdom Again, private sector investment and management expertise are much needed. Let us be nationalistic but not parochial.

In the end, I recall the verses that Amit Ray recited to Labanya in Shesher Kavita.

“পথ বেঁধে দিল বন্ধনহীন গ্রন্নি

আমরা দুজন চলতি হাওয়ায় পন্থী।”


Transportation in Bangladesh

Transportation in Bangladesh


Biman. Bangladesh Airlines connects 20 cities in Asia. Europe and Africa and operates 7 domestic routes with a fleet of five Boeing 707, five F-27 and two F-28 aircraft. The national airline is growing steadily both network and fleet wise. It is expected to acquire five new aircraft including two wide-bodied aircraft soon. During 1981 -82 (July-June), Biman carried about 62141 passengers in domestic and International network which indicates a traffic growth of over the previous year. Five development projects were Implemented up to September. 1982 at a cost of Tk. 121.1

Bangladesh Biman Airlines

Bangladesh Biman Airlines

million and Tk. 113.1 million has been sanctioned for another five projects. 13 projects for development of airports have also been undertaken.

Chittagong and Chalna are Bangladesh’s two sea-ports. With 17 jetties and a number of other facilities, Chittagong port represents the Life line of the country’s economy. It received 172 ships and handled 5.56 million tons of cargo in 198 1—82. Chalna port received 170 ships and handled 1.63m tons of cargo during the same time. The facilities in these ports are being developed.

Chittagong Sea Port

Chittagong Sea Port

With 356 passenger trains and 62 goods trains operating every day, Bangladesh Railway carries about 100m passengers and 3.6m tons of cargo annually. With a network of 1792 miles of meter and broad-gauge track and 502 stations, it employs over 60,000 people. Development projects under Implementation include complete declaration of the railway, establishment of a central workshop for repairs of locomotives and workshop for assembly and progressive manufacture of carriages and wagons. Due to reform in Railway administration revenue earning has recorded substantial increase.

Bangladesh Railway 1981

Bangladesh Railway 1981


Metallic all-weather roads total 2866 miles. About 206 miles of roads was metallic during 1980-81. Taka 1650m has been allocated in 1982—83 for development and maintenance of roads. Out of this Tk 400 m will be spent in phases in the newly upgraded thanas for the construction of roads.

Road transport is predominantly a Private sector affair. But the largest road transport organization is in the public sector with a fleet of more than 347 roadworthy buses and 184 trucks. Its network covers almost the entire country. It carries more than 100,000 passengers a day and several thousand tons of goods per month. The country’s road transport is steadily improving.

Bangladesh Shipping corporation has 25 ocean going vessels having a total tonnage of 37 1,593 DVT. The Corporation’s ships carried over 1.7 million tons of Cargo/crude oil in 1979 —80 and the total revenue earnings was Tk 1096 million. It handled 17.75 of the total export-t and import trade of the Country during the same period.
Telecommunication plays an important role in the overall development of the country. For long distance domestic connections and beaming of television programmes, high capacity microwave links have been set up with almost all district headquarters.

The Satellite Ground Station at Betbunia near Chittagong is used for all kinds of tele-link with the outside world including exchange of television programmes. The Standard ‘B’ Satellite Earth Station at Talibabad (Dhaka) has also been completed and put into operation. Telex facilities, both domestic and international are available at all major towns. Further, old outdated Teleprinter Machines have been replaced by Electronic Teleprinter Machines for the improve merit of Telegraph and Telex communication in the country. An electronic Telex Exchange has been installed in Dhaka by which any telex subscriber of the country can flow dial automatically all over the world.
Programme has been drawn up to introduce Nation Wide Dialing through Digital System in the country. Equipment for Nation Wide Dialing has already been received and the installation work is now on progress. For the improvement of rural telecommunication particularly in the upgrade thanas steps have been taken to install small capacity Rural Automatic Exchanges. 23 thanas have been equipped with telecommunication facilities and work on another 39 thanas has been taken up. Manually operated exchanges have been setup in 7 thanas.



The importance of transport planning in a developing country needs no elaboration. It is no exaggeration that transport planning is a prerequisite for systematic development and smooths functioning of a modern city and linked up with the growth of urban population, Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and physical expansion of the city. Lack of planning in this regard results in unsystematic growth of urban transport network, unplanned expansion of commercial and industrial establishment in the city. It is, thus, essential to establish a linkage between transport planning of a modern city and potential economic activities likely to be generated with the passage of time. In this context some important issues need to be taken into consideration. The trend of population growth in the city, the GDP growth rate over time, existing transport facilities, direction and possibilities of town expansion, users’ preference for transport, cost of providing transport services, and the necessary modal mix are some of the major issues worth- mentioning here.

The present paper keeping these issues in mind concentrates on the nature of transport planning which the city of Dhaka would require by the end of the century. The paper, however, does not attempt to provide any outline of the actual plan, but focuses on some of the important considerations which any transport planning for the capital city should deal with. Section-I of this paper presents a brief historical survey of the transport system of the city. Section-II highlights the temporal expansion and existing transport facilities. Section- III attempts to make a projection of the traffic position of the city and Section-IV discusses some of the problems which exist and might develop by the end of the century. The concluding Section suggests some guidelines for the transport planning of the city.

  1. Historical Background of Dhaka City’s Transport

Historically the city of Dhaka came into prominence when it was made the capital of the Subah or province of Bengal by Islam Khan Chisti in 1610 A.D. The Governor called it Jahangirnagar after the reigning Emperor Jahangir. Soon people came from far and wide to settle in Dhaka as it developed into a prosperous centre of trade and commerce. The only means of transport which existed in the seventeenth century Dhaka was some form of water transport establishing communication linkage with other parts of the country as well as foreign territory. It cannot be gathered from available source what form of transport for movement in and around the city existed at that time. Presumably people used to move in and around the city mostly on loot. Some undoubtedly used horses.
In modern times, the transport development as well as the overall expansion of the city began with Dhaka becoming the capital of East Pakistan in 1947. It is evident from available sources that the city of Dhaka at the time of partition had limited facilities regarding transportation of goods and persons. The motor car had made its appearance in Dhaka by the early thirties. These were few and used exclusively by officials and members of the Nawab family of Dhaka. Use of buses and any other machanised form of transport vehicles on commercial basis was very limited. The chief mode of transport in the city was horse driven tonga, bullock and push carts. Even the present form of rickshaw was in limited USC at the time of partition. Despite the presence of semi-mechanized rickshaws, push carts, bullock carts and horses driven tongas, limited transport facilities caused social immobility.

  1. Temporal Expansion and Existing Transport Facilities

With the development impetus, growth of city’s population, establishment of different offices, commercial centres and industrial units, the necessity for better transport system was urgently felt. For the overall development of the city, a Town improvement Act was passed in 1953 and in 1956 Dhaka Improvement Trust (DIT) was established within the framework of the 1953 Act. The DIT started its development planning programme with the planning of new residential areas of Gulshan and Banani. New roads were constructed as per DIT’s Master plan: North-South road, Outer circular road, Inner circular road, New elephant road, Manik Mia Avenue, Tongi diversion road, Rampura road enhanced the transport infrastructure of the city within the framework of the Master plan. Besides, building of shopping centres, development of Dhanmondi Residential area, Gulshan Model town (over an area of 715 acres of land) were initiated by DIT in the early sixties. Later on, Banani Residential Area and Banani Model town on 342 acres of land were built and Uttara and Bari-Dhara residential areas were also developed.

Apart from planning and developing residential areas, DIT also extended the Motijheel commercial areas and started developing commercial area on Mohakhali. During the pre-liberation days, the main shopping centres which were constructed by DIT were Nayabazar, Gulshan markets and Sakura Market.

In the sixties DIT also developed a number of industrial estates at Tongi, Postagola and Tejgoan (by C & B – Construction and Building Department). In addition to these main industrial estates established by DIT and C&B, some private industrial units grew indiscriminately in and around the city in the sixties. The city of Dhaka expanded fast during 1947-71, and it included in its circumference, areas from Buriganga River in the south of Mirpur, Gulshan, and Banani in the North:
Mohammadpur, Rayar Bazar, Hajaribagh and Nawabganj in the west to Khilgaon, Kamalapur, Sepoybagh, Jatrabari, and Dholaipar in the East.

During the war of liberation in 1971 the country as whole suffered tremendous losses, and its development impetus was slowed down owing to resource constraints caused by the war. The liberation war greatly hampered the growth of the capital city and all the development activities undertaken in the sixties were interrupted. However, as the country gradually began to recover from the devastation of the liberation war, development activities, industrial expansion, improvement of transport and communication systems of the capital city got revitalized. In the process of city development, some new commercial areas and new roads (main and link roads) were constructed. In the heart of the city the important link roads which have been built in the last five years are Progati Sarani, Bijoy Sarani, Panth Path and Rokeya Sarani. The trend of city’s expansion continues, and quite a number of hitherto undeveloped areas have been developed. In the East Basabo, Manda, Mugdapara, Dhania, Jurain can now he considered as developing residential areas. In the west, development, however, is slow because of its low lying physical condition. With the construction of Buriganga Bridge, the city is now linked by road with the other side of the river Buriganga. In the North, expansion of the city is taking place faster and already Malibagh, Rampura, Badda have grown into smart residential areas of the city. The DIT has developed Baridhara largely as a diplomatic enclave. With a view to controlling the rampant and unplanned growth, the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (RAJUK- the successor to DIT) since 1987 has started exercising its control over the expansion and development of important areas in the city. Its control has been extended to Joydehpur, Kaliganj, Sonargaon and Savar. It is more than apparent that the city of Dhaka has undergone phenomenal changes with regard to its area, population and general developments. In its wake significant improvements have also taken place in the Transport system adding new dimensions to the overall planning of the city. (See tables A 1-2)

III. Projection of Road Traffic

There is no denying the fact that any transport planning would require adequate information relating to the transport system already in operation in the city. Beside future projections have to be made. Ii is also necessary to consider the overall transport system of the country.

In consideration of these issues, the present section attempts to present a projection of the traffic position of the country, and aims at examining the impact of these changes upon Dhaka. In this connection it would be necessary to observe the nature of relationship which exists between road traffic and some major economic and social variables. In this context, road traffic has been regressed on GDP, population and per capita GDP and export and import of the country. The results of regression analysis have been presented below:

Tp =  –  42.75 + 1.41 x;                     r = 0.97,          r2= 0.94           (1)

Tp =  – 231.56 + 3.29 x1;                   r = 0.74,          r12= 0.55        (2)

Tp =  – 94.00 + 1.94 x2;                    r = 0.99,          r22 = 0.99      (3)
(33 79)*

TF =  -121.04 + 2.20 x;                     r = 0.97,          r2= 0.94          (4)

TF =  5.26 + 0.83 x3;                         r = 0.47,          r32 = 0.22       (5)

TF =  43.58 + 0.44 x4;                       r = 0.55,          r42 = 0.31       (6)        (1.49)*

Tp =   Road Passenger-km.
TF =   Road freight ton-km.
X =  GDP
X1 =   Per capita GDP
X2 =   Population
X3 =   Exports
X4 =   Imports
* = Indicates tratio

The regression results suggest that both the passenger and freight traffic of road transport of the country bear high positive correlation with GDP. It is also evident from the regression results that passenger– km. of the road transport is highly dependent on population, GDP and per capita income and statistically the results in these cases are significant. It is interesting to note that GDP and population independently explain more than 90 per cent of the changes in the passenger-km of the road transport of the country.

Considering these relationships between passenger-km of the country’s road transport, projections have been attempted for estimating the position of road passenger-km and freight ton-km on the basis of population growth and GDP growth of the country. The projected results of road passenger-km and freight ton-km have been presented in the following tables:

Table  –
                              Projected Road Traffic in Bangladesh
Years                  Passenger-km (million)         Freight ton-km (million)
———-                       *               **                    *                 **
1984-85                9993.4        10904.2       2072.8          2269.6
1989-90               11932.9         15329.1         2709.9         3559.2
1994-95               13872.3         21084.4        3345.0         5236.6
1999-2000         15809.0        28571.0         3970.6         7418.5
Source: Huq, et al. 1985

* Passenger-km and freight ton-km estimated by  T = a+bt  where ‘t’ indicates time.
* * Passenger-km and freight ton-km estimated by  T = a + bx  where ‘x’ is index of GDP assuming 5.4 per cent growth rate.

It is assumed that at least 4 per cent of the country’s total passenger-km is likely to be originated in Dhaka city and the freight- ton-km will also increase by the same proportion of 4 per cent at the minimum. On the basis of this assumption the passenger km and freight ton km of Dhaka city have been estimated as follows: Table-2



Table – 2
Projected Road Traffic in Dhaka City

Years Passenger km (million) Freight ton km (million)
* ** * **
1984-85 399.72  436.17   82.91   90.78
1989-90 477.30  613.16 108.40 142.37
1994-95 554.89  843.38 133.80 209.46
1999-2000 632.36 1142.84 158.83 296.74

Calculated by the author on the basis of Table 6.7 of Huq et al, op. cit., Asterisks as have been indicated in Table-1.

The table shows that the passenger-km of Dhaka city will increase roughly by 1.3 to 1.9 Limes of 1989-90 figures by the end of this century. Compared to passenger-km, freight-ton km of the city will increase roughly by 1.5 to 2 times of the figures of the same period. It is interesting to note that both the passenger-km and freight ton-km of the road transport of Dhaka city during 1989-90 will nearly double itself by the end of this century. This projected traffic of the city points to the magnitude of transport facilities which the city may require by the end of this century.

  1. Some Problems and Needs

In the back drop of the trend of the past, population growth, present physical expansion, growth-oriented activities and GDP growth of the country till to date, it may be said that the overall impact of the country’s economic activities will be on the city of Dhaka and the future transport plan of the city should be prepared in the light of the changes – which the city of Dhaka is likely to experience by the year
2000 A.D.

As mentioned above, like many other modern cities of the world, the major powered transport vehicles in the Dhaka metropolitan area are car, bus, taxi, mini-bus, jeep, pick-up, auto-rickshaw, auto-tempo and mishuk, while rickshaw, push cart, and cart constitute the non-powered ones. Both these powered and non-powered groups of transport vehicles ply almost on all roads excepting a few main roads in the city. However, the existing arrangements of Dhaka’s road networks and the cont rolling and regulating operations followed by the relevant authorities have led to a very unsatisfactory transport situation in the city. It is, therefore, necessary to adopt a proper plan, otherwise the hazards of city life springing from its unmanageable traffic system would create still more serious and dreadful situation by the end of this century.

In addition to the transport planning itself, another important economic issue is involved here i.e. creation of employment opportunities for a significant portion of urban city dwellers who are heavily dependent on transport sector for their livelihood.

It transpires from the nature of issues involved that transport planning for Dhaka city would involve some major considerations like planning for road network, determination of optimal modal mix, town planning commensurate with traffic growth and trade & commerce of the city and regulatory arrangements. Some special arrangements would also have to be made for non-powered vehicles in the city.

  1. a) Planning for Road Network

The city of Dhaka possesses some form of road transport for internal movement of goods and people. Unlike many capital cities of the world, she does not have underground or surface train. The present road network cannot also be compared favourably with those of other modern cities of the world. The existing road system is also not a balanced one. The city’s major thoroughfare system is stated to be less than 5 per cent of total mileage. For a balanced as well as a standard thoroughfare for any major city, arterial road should vary between 8 and 12 per cent of the total mileage. In this respect, present road system of Dhaka city suffers from inadequate arterial roads and streets.

Apart from inadequacy of arterial roads and streets there are some unplanned or ill planned streets for pedestrians. In Dhaka there are a number of streets and side-walks meant for pedestrians. At present many of them are found to be occupied by hawkers; others are very seldom used by the pedestrians. These side-walks occupy quite a portion of the main streets for useless purpose, and virtually they are creating handicaps for more useful expansion of city’s development and infrastructural facilities.

Available studies indicate that road networks divide the city in two parts: old Dhaka and the rest. Within old Dhaka, streets vary between 10 feet and 24 feet which can allow two hand carts or two rickshaws to pass without creating inconvenience to pedestrians. Some roads have foot-paths which are, however, insufficient for the volume of pedestrian movement. With the exception of Nawabpur road (which is one-way south-bound) and Kazi Alauddin Road (the complementary north bound road), all roads in old Dhaka are normally two-way. The only modem road in old Dhaka is English Road along the line of the former Dholai-khal. Outside old Dhaka the majority of roads are four or six lanes wide, and the areas where such wide roads do not exist, steps to bring them to this standard have been taken, or planned.

Planning for road network is necessary for other reasons too. Poor management of road system is creating ever increasing congestion. It is evident that improvement of road lay out, road markings and the separation of rickshaws and motorized vehicles can not only reduce the conflicts caused by the different speeds and turning movement, but may also reduce accidents and increase speed.

Although the city of Dhaka now has signal controlling system, in fact, there is no standardization in the location of the signals relative to the traffic flow in the city. Traffic control is also performed by Dhaka Metropolitan Traffic Police which has proved ineffective. It is noticeable that traffic congestion is also caused because of indiscriminate parking of both motorised and non-motorised vehicles (particularly rickshaws and pushcarts). Planning for road network of the city, thus, necessitates careful examination of the problems arising out of faults and deficiencies of roads and streets of the city.

  1. b) Determination of Optimal Modal Mix

For a modem city like Dhaka, transport planning should aim at catering to the need of the city and at the same time minimizing the wastage of both transport infrastructure and operating vehicles. This might be possible by careful observation of the travel behaviour of the users of city’s transport and comparative cost analysis of providing various modes of transport which the city entails. As mentioned earlier, in the city both powered and non-powered vehicles ply in and around the city.

Table-A.2 shows the break— down of transport vehicles in Dhaka city since 1971. It appears from the table that the mechanized vehicles such as cars, auto-tempos, buses, trucks and auto- rickshaws nearly trebled during 1971-88, and ownership increased from 35,500 vehicles in 1971 to 52,800, 80,600, 64,500 and 1,76,315 vehicles in 1976, 1981, 1986 and 1987 respectively. Despite the increase of powered transport vehicles, the preponderance of non-powered vehicles like rickshaws and bicycles is noticeable. It may be seen from the following table that rickshaws in Dhaka account for nearly 60 percent of the transport vehicles of the city while buses and auto-rickshaws account for only 2 per cent and 7 percent respectively. The motor cars (car and taxi) account for roughly 19 per cent of the vehicles in the city.



Distribution   of   Transport   Vehicles   in   Dhaka   City


Vehicles                                                     Percentage of total vehicles

  1. a) Powered vehicles

Motor car                                     ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶                                      18.74

Bus                                                ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶                                      2.13

Truck                                            ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶                                      1.26

Motor cycle                                  ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶                                      5.92

Auto-Rickshaw                           ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶                                       7.00

  1. b) Non-Powered Vehicles

Rickshaw                                     ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶                                       59.38

Bicycle                                          ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶                                       3.81

Others                                          ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶                                       1.76

Total:   100.00
Source: Ahmed and Haque, 1988.
According to a survey on travel behaviour of the inhabitants of Dhaka city the most popular mode of transport, out of nine modes considered by the author, was found to be the rickshaws although bus trip has emerged as the cheapest mode of transport in Dhaka city Tk.0.20 per mile as compared to Tk. 1.30 per mile by rickshaw and Tk. 2.30 per mile by auto rickshaw). The same study indicates that modal choice in Dhaka city varies significantly from area to area. The study reveals that bus journey in Mohammadpur and Kalabagan areas account for 10 per cent and 4 per cent only as compared to 29 per cent and 62 per cent by rickshaw in these two areas respectively. It is, however, evident from the study that in all the areas except Banani and Gulshan areas i.e. in the middle class neighbourhood rickshaw is the most used mode of transport despite the fact that bus trip is cheaper in the city.

In the light of this empirical exercise the modal choice of the inhabitants of Dhaka appears to be rickshaw rather than bus/mini bus. It is, however, to be noted that when the city expands and people need o come from distant parts of the city to their places of work, modal choice goes in favour of the cheapest mode of transport. Thus, the travel behaviour or modal choice depends on the length of journey, trip cost and time involvement. If it is presumed that the city of Dhaka will be further extended upto Savar, Joydebpur, Sonargaon, Keranigonj, Tongi and Uttara model town, then trip by rickshaw will not only be costlier but more time consuming as well. For these obvious reasons, journey by bus is sure to increase as years pass by. Transport planning in future should take into consideration this important factor relating to modal choice of the transport users.

  1. C) Regulatory Arrangements

Provision and enforcement of traffic rules and regulations play a significant role in ensuring safety of traffics on roads. In a city like Dhaka where indiscipline amongst pedestrians and drivers of vehicles cause road hazard very frequently, the importance of rules and their enforcement cannot be overemphasized. As in all other countries, there are legal provisions in Bangladesh to control and regulate the movement of vehicles on road but these are very seldom enforced strictly or properly.

There are different authorities to enforce and administer the laws relating to road transport (mechanized and non- mechanized) in Bangladesh. These are Road and Road Transport (RRT) Division of the Ministry of Communications, Police Authority, Bangladesh Transport Authority (BTA), and Regional Transport Authority (RTA). The RRT Division of the Ministry of Communications is responsible for controlling and regulating the mechanized road transport by introducing rules under Motor Vehicle Ordinance (MV). It is to be mentioned that although the RRT Division is responsible for controlling and regulating road transport some other authorities which are not under the administrative control of this division are performing a number of controlling and regulating functions. The police authority issues driving licenses and enforces traffic rules. The BTA issues inter-district route permits while route permits for district routes are issued by the RTA. Registration of vehicles is done by the police authority but renewal of driving licenses and collection of road taxes from vehicles are the responsibilities of the post-offices. Fare rates for commercial vehicles are fixed by the RRT Division while the Ministry of Commerce and Industries lays down policies with regard to type, number, makes and models of vehicles to be imported.

It may be mentioned that due to lack of central controlling agency and presence of various uncoordinated regulating agencies, the regulatory arrangements are not satisfactory and effective in Dhaka. It has been found that motor vehicles are given licenses, route permits and entry permissions without proper verifications and checks. Sometimes vehicles are registered even when they are on board in the process of import or when they are kept in workshops for repair. Registration of old/re-conditioned vehicles as new ones of fictitious new models is a very common practice. Due to lack of inspection, vehicles are sometimes found plying without valid fitness certificate. Although the BTA and the RTA are supposed to regulate and control the operation of transport vehicles these two authorities hardly deal with any subject other than issuing route permits. There is hardly any instance where the RTA has enforced proper utilization of the vehicles to the need of travelling public. Overloading of goods and passengers transport vehicle is a common phenomenon. Detection of cases of violation of traffic rules is very few. The number of traffic police is inadequate and their service is transferable from one branch to another.

  1. d) Alternative Arrangement for Non-powered Vehicles

Transport sector does nol. only provide services but may create employment opportunities for the city people. According to Labour Force Survey (1985/86), Civilian Labour force of Bangladesh is 30.9 million of which the urban Civilian Labour force appears to be 4.6 million (table-A.3). The compound growth rate of these urban labour force has been estimated (from table A.3) to be 5.7 per cent per annum during 1961-74 and 6.8 per cent per annum during 1974-86. There is no accurate estimate of employment of this civilian urban labour force of the country. It is, however, gathered from different studies that the transport sector absorbs a significant portion of the urban labour force of the country.

In Dhaka city more than 28 per cent of the household heads are found to have been absorbed in the transport sector. Of these, 23.20 per cent are rickshaw pullers, 2.60 per cent are drivers (of cars, trucks, buses and auto-rickshaws) and 2.50 per cent are push-cart pullers. It may be noted that the actual number of rickshaws in Dhaka city has yet to be ascertained. Different studies mention different numbers. In the study titled ‘Urban Travel Behaviour in Bangladesh – A Case Study of Dhaka’, total number of rickshaw has been mentioned as exceeding one lakh. This figure corroborates the number of rickshaws (1.25 lakh) mentioned in ‘Transportation and Traffic in Dhaka – Review of the Past, Present and Outlook for Future’. However, the number of licensed rickshaws of Dhaka metropolitan area at present has been reported to be 88,159.

It may be mentioned that if the actual number of rickshaws do not further increase, and ii varies between 50,000 and 1,00,000, then assuming 2.5 pullers per rickshaw, there will be an estimated rickshaw putters between 1.25 lakh and 2.5 lakh in Dhaka city. Apart from giving employment to 1.25-2.5 lakh of the urban rickshaw putters who come from poor families, the transport sector particularly the rickshaw business provides income to another estimated 15,000 people who earn their livelihood as owners, license brokers, rickshaw builders anti mechanics. This gives employment to a total of 1.40-2.65 lakh of the urban people in the city’s rickshaw transport.

As may be viewed from the above discussions that the existing transport problems need to be considered in the planning process primarily from two angles: (i) transport planning with the slow moving vehicles like rickshaws and (ii) transport planning for other modes of vehicles without rickshaws. The problem of slow moving vehicles like rickshaws plying side by side with fast moving mechanized vehicles is really a difficult one. In modern cities of the world, this type of slow moving vehicles hardly exists. In any scheme for the improvement of Dhaka’s transport system, a policy of withdrawing rickshaw would, however, be inappropriate without creating alternative means of livelihood for those who depend on rickshaws. For a country like Bangladesh where majority of the population live below poverty line, withdrawal of rickshaw would mean deprivation of 1.4 lakh- 2.50 lakh of city-dwellers of job opportunities. Any move of this nature must be viewed with utmost caution.

The government policy of withdrawing rickshaws by phases26 has not yet been put into operation. If owing to economic and social considerations, the withdrawal of rickshaws is delayed or does not at all lake place, then the planners must look into the situation from a different perspective.

  1. Some suggestions

It is evident from the above discussion that transport planning for Dhaka should take into consideration the city’s present transport problems and some crucial developments which the city would experience by the end of the century. It goes without saying that a city’s transport plan depends on certain factors such as trend and direction of expansion of the city, requirement of transport facilities including the transport network, modal choice of the city dwellers, and nature and direction of pull factors.

There is no denying the fact that although development plan for Dhaka started from the mid fifties, transport planning in an integrated manner has yet to be outlined. Some steps for improving the physical layout and transport system of the city have been undertaken in the recent past. But these are, in a sense, very isolated and unrelated to the basic issues which we need to take care of for a proper and realistic transport planning for a capital city like Dhaka.

To-day Dhaka is having transport problems of diversified nature. In addition to these problems, the city will have to face some new ones by the end of this century. The area of the city, as one can easily visualize, will expand, volume of trade and commerce will increase, and the city’s population and GDP will further increase with the passage of time. These phenomena necessitate some realistic transport planning so that the existing traffic problems of the city do not get further exacerbated. In this context, the following guidelines may be considered for any future planning.

First, it should be borne in mind that transport planning does not include only planning for transport vehicle or network increase, it includes enforcement of regulatory arrangements too. Secondly, transport planning should be jointly co-ordinated by the economists, sociologists, geographers, town planners and engineers who are capable of providing necessary suggestions for improved transportation system for a city. Thirdly, as tremendous limitations exist in remodeling the old Dhaka, the focus of transport planning should be directed towards the new Dhaka and the areas which would be included in the metropolitan area. Fourthly, as there will be very fast growth of city’s dimension, and both passenger-km and freight ton-km will nearly double by the end of the century, larger number of fast moving road transport vehicles will have to be planned carefully. Fifthly, in order to minimize road hazards fast moving vehicles and slow moving vehicles should not be allowed to ply on the same roads and streets. Sixthly, if the slow moving non-motorised vehicles are to be replaced, buses, the cheapest mode of transport, have to be increased and more frequency of their service has to be ensured. Seventhly, the law enforcing agencies, in charge of transport regulation, must work with utmost sincerity so chat traffic jam, plying of unworkable vehicles, which not only add to the traffic hazard but increases air pollution, can be eliminated or at least minimized. Finally, construction of roads and side- walks for the pedestrians should be well planned so that movement of vehicles takes place without any hindrance.

Table — A.1

Population Trend of Dhaka City


Year National
Urban Population
Population of
Proportion of National Urban
Population Living in Dhaka
(2) -: (1)X 100

Note:   e & p denote estimate and projection respectively.
Source: Amin, A.T.M.N. (1989).







Table — A.2                                                                                                             Vehicle Ownership in Dhaka City

Type of Trains-1971      1976       1981     1986   1987 1988                                                              Port Vehicles                                                                  (Upto31stJuly)

Car                            11,882       14,546         21,979           29,017           30,444       31,217

Motor Car                          323             404               478                688                706            715

Auto Tempo                          0                 0                454             1,016             1,764         2,148

Bus                              1,531          2,534             3,698             4,545              4,801        4,860

Truck                              3,640         5,809             7,657            10,111           10,596       10,944

Auto Rickshaw               3,843          5,160            6,785               8,146           10,015       11,066

Jeep                             2,804           4,904            6,090               6,944             7,203         7,311

Wagon/Minibus             681              816            2,398               5,987              7,151        7,675

Pickup/Van                    599              736            1,288               2.313              2,624        2,866

Motorcycle                     9,644         16,582          28,376             55,074            60,087      62,539

Tractor                               179              379               417                  533                 553           568

Trailor                                  92              107              110              39,178            39,178      39,178

Others                                 240              873              873                   873                 873           873

Mishuk                                    0                 0                  0                       0                  314          800

(Machanised version of rickshaw)

Total:                             35,458        52,850         80,603            1,64,425          1,76,315   1,82,366

Source: Dhaka Metropolitan Police






Table – A.3

Civilian Labour Force of Bangladesh

Year National
Urban Rural Total
1961 Census1974 Census1981 Census1983/84                                Labour Force Survey1984/85                             Labour Force Survey1985/86                             Labour Force Survey







Source:   1. Islam, N.- Increasing the Absorptive Capacity of Metropolitan Economics of Asia. 1987.

  1. BBS – Statistical Pocket Book of Bangladesh, 1989.

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