Ami Bangladeshi

Ami Bangladeshi

Ami Bangladeshi

The Face of Digital Bangladesh

Thank God!

Thank God for Digital Bangladesh! এর বদৌলতে আমরা বিদেশে বসে দেশের অনেক রঙ্গীন নাচ দেখতে পারছি....এটাই বা কম কিসের?

What a life!!!

Dancing for the Star...

take that...

Photobucket

THOUGHTS ON “DIGITAL BANGLADESH”

THOUGHTS ON
“DIGITAL BANGLADESH”

(MATERIALIZING THE PROGRAM)

Prof. Bijon B. Sarma

INTRODUCTION :
We have explained why the thought of materializing Digital Bangladesh is risky and difficult in a poor country with low level of technology. In fact the country is so poor that it could not appoint the bare minimum required teachers in the educational institutions and government personnel in various public institutions, not to say anything about the inadequate provisions, facilities and salaries of the employed staff. To worsen the situation further, after every 3-5 years the country is visited by devastating tidal bore, damaging wealth worth millions.

The generous offer for being connected with the information highway was given to Bangladesh during the BNP government. The government has acted like the “enemy of the country” by refusing that offer at that time. By this time the cost of related items have gone up and also the country has turned poorer. Any ambitious project for this country at this stage and context needs intelligent planning. No expert would ever say that “Digital technology” has no failure. On the other hand, quite often it fails not naturally, but intentionally due to the profiteering tendency of the related experts. Needless to mention that they find lucrative big business in such failures. Hackers (or the night-time entity of some experts) are active in order to crush the software. Even the developed countries like USA are not free from their attack. However, the hackers know well that the developed countries are capable enough to mend the damage by themselves. For obvious reasons, they love to fiddle in countries, which lack in that capability. Once the society is accustomed to some type of digital system, with its failure for whatever reason, it must be replaced immediately for the reason of people’s demand or welfare. And many a times the cost of such replacement is much more than the original expenditure. All digital systems are not essential, but once people become accustomed to it, or the country’s overall system is tuned for it, there remains no scope to ignore the same. We can cite one example here.

In the 2009 election the Election Commission used National Identity Card and it was done with tremendous cost. However, because of an inherent lacking in the system those are losing the targeted use or purpose. We are aware that road-side shops now manufacture fake cards and there is almost no way of preventing them. We know how easy it is to get the examination results through internet. And we also know how easy it is to manufacture fake results or certificates. We have to remember that whatever technologies the authorities use for manufacturing these are equally available to the miscreants. That is why we need additional measures to make those full proof and prevent fraudulence.
HOW TO PROCEED :
(01) SPEED : “Whether or not we shall go for expanding digital technology” is not a question. In this age we have to accept it not only for progress, but for our survival. Now the question is, at what speed. Definitely the country should proceed at the speed (whatever slow it might be) in conformity with the technological level and economy of the country. When the agents with vested interests usually keep on pressing for “running”, the government should carefully find out the velocity with which it should proceed. The government should never fix a target that they would finish everything by certain time. On the other hand they should go on introducing and expanding new digital technologies in various fields, where the completion (as a matter of fact there is no state of completion) would depend upon the economic, technological and social conditions of the country. Whatever might be their targeted or declared goal, a government should not have any guilt-feeling for the slow speed, if that is what the country’s overall situation demands. Thus, in materializing the above goal, THE FIRST IMPORTANT FACTOR IS THE “SPEED” WITH WHICH THE GOVT. SHOULD PROCEED.

(02) ADDITIONAL MEASURE : For the materialization of any project, context is extremely important. In the developed countries, even with higher technology, no citizens would ever think of manufacturing fake ID’s. But in our country they not only think, they do and would continue doing the same. That is the cultural difference one has to take care during the introduction of any new system. For the success of any project various countries may need to take some “carefully designed additional measures” to take proper care of such ‘national characteristics’. In addition, in all cases of public interest one paper copy of the important information must be retained carefully, because computer hard-disk may crush at any moment (a) naturally, (b) due to hacking or (c) wilful damage by those with vested interest. So, the SECOND IMPORTANT FACTOR IS THE “ADDITIONAL DESIGNED MEASURES”.

(03) KEEPNG SOMETHING IN HAND : Economy is extremely important in any project. In case of a poor country with over population and frequent climatic hazards it is much more complex and difficult than finance. Loan or external investment acts like false affluence, that at times misguides the poor nations. Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate in Economics in 2008 has recently pointed out the problems with such external investments. In Bangladesh we are now facing the problem of lavish external investments done in the recent past. In such investments some mobile companies nearly entered in competition in spending. Now we hear that most of them cannot make any profit, indicating they would press upon the government for reduction of taxes. We also know that at least some of them used to earn (and probably still does) hundreds of crores every month through illegal VOIP business. After digital technology would be introduced in the country some local and foreign companies would earn billons. What the government would get will be the tax payable on their disclosed activities or transactions. This tax will be just meagre in comparison with their huge earning. And this would take place in a country that primarily depends upon agro-forest-fish produce, where the real income from these sectors is diminishing worldwide on comparative basis. On the other hand the government would have to spend their hard earned foreign currency for importing digital items. In such a situation, the government may be advised to keep some of the businesses in their hands for ensuring positive economy. So, the THIRD IMPORTANT FACTOR IS TO KEEP SOME BUSINESS IN GOVERNMENT HAND NOT ONLY FOR PROFIT, BUT FOR RECOVERY OF EXPENSES AND SURVIVAL OF SOME SERVICE SECTORS.

(04) GOVT. CONTROL AND SOVEREIGN POWER : Apart from business, the government would have to keep some of the digital business mainly in the service sector in their hand for ensuring safety, security and greater interest of the country. For example, we can mention that at present at least one mobile company is doing business of communication (internet, fax etc.) and information dissemination in the name of CIC (community information centre). Reportedly, from this community centre the peasants get advice regarding which fertilizer (or seed, medicine etc.) is to be used. Any private company may keep information centre for disseminating their exclusive information. But allowing such a company to deal in “community information” is to be treated as criminal offense on the part of the government and it should be stopped at this instance. Such Community Information centre, if any, should be run only by the government. Just imagine, a peasant approaches a so called CIC, owned by a private company to ask which seeds he should use. Now remember the past performance of this company and you would see, it is the same company that finalized everything for importing that extremely dangerous Monsanto seeds in this country. When the government has got bitterest experience about their performances, how can they allow them to do it ? Does the government want to see another disaster ?

Let me explain further. Most of us have seen the TV advertisement in which a mother declares a face cream as the surest way of success in interview. We laugh at their foolishness. Now even if a “fool” suffers from loss by really advising her daughter like that, it would be their familial loss. But what about the vicious loss of an illiterate peasant who accepts the advice of the Monsanto-friends ? Does not the government any responsibility towards them ? Should the government leave matters of national interests on to the mercy of the greedy agents ? I earnestly request the government to close such so called CIC at the earliest. Thus, the FOURTH IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR THE GOVERNMENT IS TO APPLY SOVEREIGN POWER AND KEEP CONTROL OVER THE PRIVATE ENTERPRIZES.

SOME SPECIFIC TASKS :
REGISTRATION OF CITIZENS (National Identity) : All the citizens with age over ten years should be given National or Students Identity Cards. The government may take a year long program, where persons would have to registrar their names in a roaster like : Those whose name start with A and B has to registrar in January, C and D in February, … and finally, W, X, Y and Z in December. That would summarily reduce the rush of men per month by 81.5% (100 - 8.5). In fact it will be still less due to the exclusion of students.

ID Number : All citizens would have to be registered in the Upazilla they reside. The Upazillas would be identified by a three letter code. Thus, KLN may be used for Khulna, DHK for Dhaka. After these letters, there will appear the last two digits of his year of birth. Then there will be a letter with which his name starts. Thus Mohammad Amjad Hossain would have the letter M. Lastly, there will be a 3-digit number, which will be given by the registering authorities of the Upazilla. Thus, one ABDUL KADER, born in 1986 and residing in Kushtia upazilla would get the National ID number : KUS 86 A 002. We know the existing NID also contain a number. In comparison to that one this number is much easier to remember and maintain in record. The residence and age of the citizen is known directly from the number.

Registration : The registering authorities would print and sell the printed blank document at a nominal price. It would contain adequate space for writing some basic information like Name, father’s and mother’ names, permanent and present address, date of birth, examination passed (only school and college finals and higher degrees), Registration number of professional institutes, Registered mobile no. (where applicable) etc. It would be the responsibility of each citizen to purchase this form, fill properly, paste a photograph, carry one more photograph and visit the registration centre on the stipulated month. This office may work from 4.00 P.M. to 9.00 P.M. on weekly holidays also. The applicant shall sign and give thumb impression in the form in presence of the officer, handover the photograph and pay the fee for registration. In January the officer would Register his name either in A or B titled registrar, where the serial number would be his last digit. After some days or months the man may be instructed to collect his ID card and an attested Photocopy of his application. The educated persons should be requested to help the illiterate people, specially the boys who work on city streets and do not go to school. In our country such boys indulge in criminal activities. Hence, they may be taken to police custody in absence of IDs. If all the citizens can be brought under such a system, their movements can easily be monitored and criminal activities, checked.

Additional measure : The applicant may collect any number of extra copies of application or ID, where the cost for additional copies will be high. Also in case of loss he can collect duplicate copies. His application and ID would show at least 2 telephone numbers of the registering office, by calling which anybody could verify the information. Manufacturing fake cards can be prevented in our society by adopting such “ADDITIONAL MEASURE” (Fixed record verifiable over telephone). The ID card in association with the authentic application can be used as passport also.

AUTHENTICITY OF ACADEMIC CERTIFICATES :
Quite often we hear of manufacturing and selling of fake certificates. In the digital age it is possible to completely prohibit this trend by following the process described hereunder.

PUBLIC : All academic certificates issued by Secondary Education Boards, Public Universities etc. may be asked to submit a copy of the final result to the Government Press such that those can be published as extra-ordinary gazette. This should be done at least one year after the publication of result to take care of any immediate correction. The government may not have any financial loss due to this gazette, because huge number copies of it will be sold for obvious reasons. The candidates procure and keep one copy in his own interest. Also those should be preserved in government offices.

PRIVATE : In case of private organizations, the government may ask the private institutes, universities etc. to print reference telephone nos. in all certificates and other documents and to maintain full time offices for their verification.

PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES : The government should recognize one professional societies from each and every profession on condition that they would maintain year-wise list of their qualified members and would verify information whenever asked for. Those concerned with the security of people’s lives (like drivers of bus, train, motor vessels, trucks etc.) should openly show their professional identity cards. Thus in time of driving, the driver should be asked to exhibit his identity card (minimum A4 size) with large legible photo at the front. The truck drivers should fix the same outside the side door. The passengers or passers bye can then easily identify them. In this digital age they may even take photographs in mobile phones. That would make the drivers more careful to their duties and would indirectly help in saving many lives.

DIGITAL EQIPMENTS : Countries manufacturing digital equipments have got obvious advantage in throwing away old items for the sake of buying the new ones. Same is not the case in a country who does not manufacture any such devise and where there is enough manpower to work as repairer of such equipments. In place of importing new ones the government may take a coordinated endeavour to make sure that the old equipments passes away to the hands of users with less money and there grows adequate centres for the repair of such equipments.

We have mentioned how disastrous it may be if the “business associates of Monsanto” are allowed to advise our peasants. In the same way, the government should assess, how evil it might be for our society and future generations if the western “porno-sites” are kept open for them. So far we know, Malaysia has made some arrangement in which they can keep their internal communication free from external interferences. In the most widely used system in which all internet signals use the foreign (US) military satellite, it is difficult to create such exclusion. But after Bangladesh has got access to the second option, i.e. the submarine cable, it has become feasible. Now the rest depends upon the sweet will of our government.

REMEMBERING THEIR ROLE :
Many a times our computer experts and businessmen advised our government wrongly. We would like to mention some of those hereunder :

(i) On one occasion they demanded tax reduction on digital equipments (computers) and alleged that their use would enable the country to earn billions through “design and export of computer software”. The claim was never true. Such soft wares are designed by extremely rich companies and by using genius and at times, many programmers at one time. In order to get market one has to design products with superiority. The businessmen knew quite well that it was not possible in Bangladesh, but still they raised untrue claims n their selfish interest. At present India exports software in some companies with special type of requirement in the developed countries and lower grades in poor countries. Bangladesh is capable of designing the type of software to be used inside the country, even though many of them harness the foreign ones.

(ii) On another occasion they claimed that alike India Bangladesh could earn billions by ‘data processing jobs’. By convincing the government, they lowered the international telephone call to about 10.00 per minute for a number of developed countries. When such a call to neighbouring India costs about Taka 20.00 per minute, can you imagine, what a big loss they brought to the telephone industry by fixing the rate of 10.00 taka per minute for those distant countries ? And in return how much they brought from data processing job ? They knew quite well that their claim of big profit was a bluff. The data processing jobs that India does in their land are in fact managed by Indian companies working in those countries. Does there any exist any such big companies owned by Bangladeshis in those countries ?

(iii) Their another claim was for establishing “call centres”. India earns a lot from this sector. However, most if not all, of their call centres are also managed by Indian companies working abroad. So, for Bangladesh the possibility of this business was never bright. Coincidentally not much people now feel interested in this business due to recession and after hearing the news that many foreign companies are going to close their distant call centres. The US president has declared a similar policy. Advising the government to do something on false claims should always be condemned.

CONCLUSION :
In this article we endeavoured to express that the government of Bangladesh should proceed towards the use and expansion of digital technology in a slow and steady manner, keeping in mind that

(a) In the past many agents advised the government to do things in their interest in the disguise of “big profit”,

(ii) Still many companies are draining out money from the country in numerous fraudulent ways,

(iii) Those with the responsibility of ensuring safe and cost-effective use of such gadgets for the greater interest of the people and the country did not perform their duties,

(iv) By exposing some of the country’s delicate sectors to the greedy businessmen, the government has in fact taken great risk.

(v) The government did not act fairly by allowing the nasty websites to reach our young generation.

In conclusion we mention in short that the government targeting for making Digital Bangladesh should proceed with extreme precaution. In this regard some of our suggestions are :

(01) The SPEED of materialization should have conformity with the overall situation, specially the economic condition of the country and must not be guided by the agents, having vested interest.

(02) In every phase of introducing new digital systems, the government should think of incorporating designed ADDITIONAL MEASURES suited to our culture and local conditions.

(03) If not for profit, but for expense recovery, the government should retain some of the business (created due to introduction of digital technology) in their hands. Thus other than internet, all other communication including telephone (VOIP) may be retained with the Government’s Post, Telephone and Telegraph department. When courier, mobile phone, fax etc. have squeezed out the life blood of this sector, they need something as compensation and VOIP may serve this purpose.

(04) In order to prohibit such acts like misguiding our common people and young generation with motivated advice, malicious items etc. the government should apply its sovereign power over the profiteering companies and should keep certain services in its hand.

PROF. BIJON B. SARMA, Head, Architecture Discipline, Khulna University, Khulna, Bangladesh

Digital Bangladesh (Program)

THOUGHTS ON
“DIGITAL BANGLADESH”

(THE PROGRAM)

Prof. Bijon B. Sarma
INTRODUCTION :
The term “Digital Bangladesh” was first used by Bangladesh Awami League immediately before 2009 election. By every possibility it was used at that time as a “nice-sounding political slogan”. At that time winning in election was their prime target and probably the advocators did not get adequate time to formulate its “meaning and implications”. In the above election Bangladesh Awami League achieved landslide victory. It is true that the voters did not vote them for their declaration for making “digital Bangladesh”. On the other hand, for them it was an election for rejection, rejection for BNP, the corrupt and rotten political party. And they strived for escape from its grip.

For achieving this goal the voters were mentally prepared to vote in favour any other party, much worse than Bangladesh Awami League. However, after the grand win, materializing “Digital Bangladesh” has now become the moral duty of this party. Till now no spokesman of this party has clearly explained what they are really going to do for materializing “Digital Bangladesh” and that has created some confusion. I have heard some “experts” to opine on TV talk-show that they do not understand what this term means. Also some endeavoured to cut joke saying that it may be something like electricity, having two important aspects, “Off and On”. It may be difficult for the less calibre persons, specially those from non-science background to understand this term. But there should be no difficulty for the enlightened persons to understand the meaning of this term. However, understanding the meaning of the term does not help much to realize how this “mission” will be materialized in the context of Bangladesh. In this article I shall explain my ideas on this subject. I must mention that these are exclusively my ideas and have absolutely no relation with what Bangladesh Awami League or the government of Bangladesh thinks about their program under the same title.

“DIGITAL BANGLADESH” :
Words change their meaning with time and context. At one time ‘Digit(al)’ was frequently used in comparison with ‘Analogue’, where the second word used to express the extent of something by volume or figure and the first one, directly. Thus, in a conventional analogue clock the time can be read even by the illiterates by seeing the locations of the hands. Time in the digital clock is shown by numbers (or digits) understandable only by literate persons. The term digital got another meaning with the invention of color television. In the previous black and white television, display was created by long interrupted lines. In color or “digital” display the same was done by combination of tiny-size lighted and dark spots. “Digital technology” is a recent term that includes electronic gadgets using micro-chips. Even though the two terms, electronic parts and micro-chips basically performs the same jobs, there is gulf of difference between them. The second one consumes extremely low energy and is incredibly miniature in size. These preferences rendered digital technology to perform nearly impossible missions. As per common use, the technology making use of ‘micro-chip’ or ‘chip’ is known as Digital technology. When this technology will be used in all possible fields in Bangladesh to give positive results, what we shall get will be “Digital Bangladesh”.

USE OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY :
Like any other device, knowledge or technology, Digital technology also has got both positive and negative effects. We all know what a tremendous blessing the mobile phone has brought for us. Also we know, miscreants use it for evil purposes. So, if we cannot stop the dark side of its use, this blessing would soon turn to curse. The excellent contribution of ‘internet’ is known to all. Its free use may help to train our people “terrorism” (as it happened in case of USA) and pollute our society with pornography (as has happened in the western countries to a position of no-return), none of which are acceptable I Bangladesh for cultural reasons. Also, we have seen some mobile phone companies to feel satisfied to pay fines worth hundreds of crores of taka, after being accused for illegal use of VOIP gadgets. We can only imagine how much money they swallowed by taking the scope of digital technology. So, unless we can stop the ill effects of this technology through intelligent measures, the same may help to make Bangladesh a “pauper” within few decades, if not years.

Digital technology is not a new thing. In our neighbouring country India, they use micro-chip to identify stray cows. The cow is fed the chip that remains permanently inside the body and when touched, the electronic sensor gives the reading. Each such chip costs about 7.00 Dollars. However, what is so easy in case of India is not so in case of Bangladesh. By now India is among the leading countries producing chips, where as in Bangladesh there is not a single factory for its manufacture. That means the job that may be easy and less costly for a country like India may be extremely difficult and costly for Bangladesh. Even though the use of digital technology would ease and bless the life and living of men through its excellent contributions in various sections like communication, transportation, education, business, trading etc., and businesses worth billions will be generated due to their use, neither the country nor the people would get its benefit unless the government acts intelligently. If programs are taken as per advise of the parties having vested interest in it, then in the long run the government may see the following :

(i) The country spent billions of taka every year on importing digital and allied equipments, paying fee for the country’s accessibility to www etc. in order to materialize the dream of digital Bangladesh.
(ii) The digital Bangladesh appeared as one of the poorest country of Bangladesh with over population, draining out of wealth etc. where the little tax paid by the users and corrupt traders were no match for the huge expenditure on the import of digital equipments.
One does not need much intelligence to understand that even on that day the country’s major income shall come from Agriculture, Industry and the expatriate’s remittances.

GOVERNMENT AND DIGITAL BANGLADESH :
Without having a single factory producing sophisticated electronic device like micro-chip, the program of “Digital Bangladesh” is nearly an impossible dream for this country. But still, for Awami League and the government of Bangladesh creation of “Digital Bangladesh” has turned to something like “mission with no return” because of a number of reasons like :
(i) This is one of their most important election manifestoes.
(ii) The opposition political party is vigilant and they would consider the failure of this program as their grand success.
(iii) The foreign manufacturers and their local agents would keep on pressing because they have good fortunes in it.
(iv) The local providers (including companies like some extremely corrupt mobile companies) would encourage it for obvious reasons.

PROCEEDING WITH THE PROGRAM :
Materializing digital Bangladesh within 5 or 10 years is not a very difficult job. One can do it even in 2 years, if one has vast money. In short, making digital Bangladesh means use of digital gadgets and technology in all possible fields. Any country can do it by importing the appliances, where the suppliers at their own initiative would commission those and keep running, if, only if they get the money. In a country with less of patriotism and honesty among the literate people such a venture would mean enormous fraudulent activities and wastage. Computer, the most important digital equipment can be used for quite a long time. Even though the newer version allows wider scope of work, the older version can satisfactorily serve the purpose of who do not need higher works and have less money. However, discarding nearly-new computers for using the brand new ones is quite helpful for the economy of the countries who manufacture those. And the same acts in fact bleed the economy of the country that does not produce any. Our old computers could have been easily used by another group, if the conscious authorities (like computer council) planned in that way. Unfortunately that did not happen because we have more number of greedy people than patriots in such organizations. At present also the manufacturers compel the users to discard the old equipments by stopping supply spare parts or utilities and our organizations cooperate them. The ugliest game is now being played by the companies supplying printers, who supply special type of ink for one type of printer and then stop its availability in order to introduce another type. Our government does not seem to have any knowledge of it.

CONCLUSION :
Our government has promised to materialize the above extremely risky game. I have already mentioned that the government would need huge money to materialize this program. And there will be no dearth of money for this program. The countries or consortium countries who are manufacturers of these gadgets would extend their cooperation in the form of loan. Now let us say, the government realize the program within ‘x’ years (where ‘x’ may be 2 to 10 years) without some basic changes and reformations of policies and hence after the stipulated time the country becomes fully digital. In that Digital Bangladesh :

(01) We, the common people would feel blessed to enjoy unimaginable facilities and fortunes like : (i) carrying out transaction, (ii) buying all sorts of tickets, (iii) making reservations, (iv) establishing quickest communications, (v) play international lotto games, (vi) purchasing foreign items, (vii) taking part in international share-gamble including primes and sub-primes, (viii) collecting reading and learning materials from the renowned libraries of the developed countries and so on. The reader may please note that item nos. (v) to (viii) indicates only one way journey of our scarce resources. Even though there is remission or relaxation in membership or collection-fees for the new countries, those are usually increased as soon as the country becomes dependent on such items. Those who speak high of the availability of learning materials through web-browsing should know that even though those materials sound big for the school or college-going students, those are not worthwhile for the advanced learners. The advanced learners can collect valuable materials only with cost and this cost is quite considerable.

(02) The traders and agents of gadgets and providers of services would make big business. The fruitless “big talks and claims” of “earning billions (through software export, call-centre business etc.) by spending millions in import (on the part of the government)” would continue only to make the country poorer. The shrewd managers would constantly work out ways and means to squeeze out money from their customers. More shrewd companies would continue their usual stealing activities in association with the bureaucrats, and when caught red-handed, would laughingly pay fines worth several hundred or thousand crores.

(03) By this time there will be many cases of ‘hacking’ through which the miscreants would drain out billions from the customers’ and governments’ bank accounts, damage of equipments etc. Also there will be numerous real or false threat of hacking. The so called ‘well-wishers(?)’ would further drain out money in the form of ‘protection’, ‘anti-disease’ etc.

(04) Various renowned companies would invent and sell ‘pilferage-proof’ methods to be used in the security system. The same companies would sell the technology to the miscreants at higher price, resulting in ‘loss and disaster’ for users including the government.

With time the country would have to repay the foreign debts with interest, the reserve of gas would decrease, cities and rivers would be polluted (disposal of condemned gadgets will be one good reason), price of software jump up with the imposition of intelligence copyright etc. The government would feel the ever increasing cost of maintaining the essential facilities, services and welfare programs. Except the present primary sources like agro-fish-forest and tertiary source like expatriate’s remittance there seems absolutely no source of wealth in the far or near future, unless of course, new sources of gas, oil or minerals is discovered. In this part of the article we have shown the dark side of the program. And it is going to happen like it, if the government goes for materializing the program as per advice of the concerned businessmen, foreign countries manufacturing these gadgets and those with vested interest inside the country. The scene may, however, be different if the government proceeds in intelligent way. We shall discuss some of those in the second part of this article.

PROF. BIJON B. SARMA, Head, Architecture Discipline, Khulna University, Khulna, Bangladesh.

Transport Problem of Dhaka city

DHAKA CITY’S TRANSPORTATION PROBLEM :
IS THERE ANY SOLUTION ?

PROF. BIJON B. SARMA
Dean, Faculty of Architecture and Planning and
Head, Department of architecture
Ahsanullah University of Sc. & Tech. (AUST)

ABSTRACT : The governments of the territory previously known as East Pakistan and now, Bangladesh have been found to take many costly measures for solving the transportation problem of Dhaka city. However, in place of solving, each of their programs has increasingly aggravated the problem. In this article we have endeavored to find out the causes of these multiple failures. After analyzing these causes we have also presented the probable solution. While the problem of transportation of Dhaka city is the problem of a single city, in the country it is extremely importance because this one is the capital city of Bangladesh. We have opined that Dhaka’s transport problem is caused among others by the vehicles coming from all corners of the country. Naturally this part of the problem is beyond the reach of the urban authorities and has to be addressed in the national level. We have also shown that various governments took up programs which have profusely enriched the concerned technical and administrative personnel. Even though the problem could have been addressed in unique way applicable in the context of Bangladesh, neither the planners and other experts nor the government ever endeavored to do the same. On the other hand they followed examples followed by countries having entirely different context. The transportation problem needs immediate solution. Its solution would act as blessing not only for Dhaka city, but for the entire country.

INTRODUCTION :
Starting from the first government formed by Bangladesh Awami League in 1971, all the governments of this territory took many steps to solve the “transportation problem of Dhaka city” and all have failed. The present government also has taken up some measures with apparent signs of failure. The government has also declared “lucrative and safe policies” like : (i) underground railway, (ii) mono-rail, (iii) flyovers, (iv) elevated expressways etc. Any person with little intelligence might understand that these measures also would be proved failure in the long run. In connection with these ambitious, big budget and long term policies we have used two terms, “lucrative” and “safe”. These policies are “lucrative” because there remains “play of big money” from which all the associated persons can make money. These policies are also “safe”, because there exists almost no accountability in such projects. Such expensive projects need longer time, like ten or more years, to be materialized. After the project is finished it may be seen that those who advocated it as “excellent solution” have safely disappeared from the scene. The high ranking political personals may have taken shelter in foreign countries, bureaucrats might have gone on retirement and politicians, changed parties. And even if any related person is asked “why the project did not give the predicted result” the possible and safe reply would be, “well, other unforeseen developments nullified the solution”.

We all know, how bravely the advocators of flyover told in its favor, even though some others opined that those would create more problems. The advocators won because of the financial attraction of such project. Now a number of costly flyovers have been constructed in the city and these have created even greater problems. “Why ?” If one raises the question with the advocators they would give excuses like “number of cars, or buses, or people have increased beyond our estimation, the city expanded beyond our expectations” and so on. The solution like “underground rail line or Metro”, however, is really capable of solving the transportation problem with the creation of no or very little hazards. But no sensible and patriotic citizen of Bangladesh should ever advocate this solution because of its huge cost. Taking such a costly, lavish and complex project for solving one single problem of only one city of a poor, flood-prone, technologically lower-mid level country like Bangladesh should be considered nothing but mockery for the poor and distressed citizens. It may be interesting to note that while the entire country is suffering from numerous problems, Dhaka city even has not other crucial problems like scarcity of quality drinking water, sewerage problem, power shortage etc.

WHY THE AUTHORITIES FAIL : For long (2009 – 1971 =) 38 years the authorities of Dhaka city have endeavored to solve the transportation problem and have spent millions. In such a situation it is logical to first have a look into the reasons behind their failure. The three major reasons behind their failure may be mentioned as : (01) Kitchen-level solution, (02) Corrupt bureaucrats and political leaders and (03) Lack of prudency of the urban planners. We shall present hereunder their brief descriptions.

(01) KITCHEN-LEVEL SOLUTION : If the kitchen-maid is given the responsibility of solving the problems inside the kitchen, she would be able to do the same to the maximum extent possible for her. Since the activities and supplies of the kitchen are intricately related with other rooms of the house, for effective solution the interference of the house-owner is a must. Similar is the case with the ‘transportation problem of Dhaka city’. Here the problem is related with the entire country because people from the entire country contribute to ‘transportation problem’ with their visits and carrying of vehicles. The urban authorities do not have any instrument to control their flow or migration, where as the changes in their number are key factors in generation of the problem. Because of this reality we opined that the role of the Dhaka urban authorities is similar to that of the “kitchen-maid”, who does not have control over some of the major influencing factors staying outside her domain.

(02) CORRUPT BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICAL LEADERS : The single strongest reason for which Bangladesh as a democratic country could not have expected level of development is, there is no transparent and well-spelt system of collection of money for bearing the cost of the political parties. In democracy the activities of the political parties is essential and the need of money for the same is obvious. But there is absolutely no system or provision for collecting the same. In such a situation the politicians collect money from all possible sources. The ruling government manages the same from the two major sources : (a) Big projects and (b) Booties from the law breaking persons.

(a) Hundreds of millions of Taka have been spent for solving Dhaka city’s transportation problems and all have failed. The ironic truth is, even though some experts correctly predicted their fates, those were taken up mostly for the cause of enriching the corrupt bureaucrats and fuelling the ruling political parties.

(b) Most of the time the people’s elected leaders collect booty from persons enjoying illegal or unlawful opportunities. For example, the footpaths are meant for people’s walking and not for trading. The local political leaders and monitoring personnel allow the hawkers to continue the same at the cost of kick-backs.

It will not be possible for any political party of this democratic country to take up projects entirely for satisfying the people’s needs unless and until a transparent system of fund collection for the contesting political parties can be ensured.

(03) LACK OF PRUDENCY OF THE URBAN PLANNERS: The first proof of lack of prudency of the urban authorities is, they cannot even realize that they are playing the “role of the kitchen maid” in the project where ‘house master’s interference’ is a must. It is evident that the local urban authorities do not have control over some of the internal and all of the external factors affecting the city’s transportation domain. Dhaka city’s transportation problem is intricately related with the following internal and external factors :

INTERNAL : (i) Government’s policy regarding accommodation of inhabitants (e.g. density of population per unit area, taking into consideration the allowable heights of buildings) and commitment to strict adherence to the declared policies.
(ii) Policy of car occupancy.
(iii) Policy regarding type of city’s physical expansion (i.e. whether it would take place as agglomeration, fringe area absorption, satellite growth or independent development etc.)

EXTERNAL : Policy regarding entry of people and vehicle from outside the planned area.

SOME PARADOXES: In Bangladesh some peculiar things can be noticed in the attitude of the urban authorities. It may seem strange that various programs taken up by the urban authorities shamelessly go for ensuring the financial interest of the land owners. Even though Bangladesh is a democratic country with equal rights for all, their activities reveal as if they are working for :
(i) Making the city a habitable area for only the affluent people,
(ii) Equipping and enriching the city with facilities, provisions and services such that people from all over the country and abroad could be compelled or allured to come here and spend money.

In the history of Bangladesh all the governments, with the lone exception of President H.M. Ershad, have shown utter ignorance of the interest of the people living outside Dhaka. President Ershad’s “Upazilla Parishad” program was a excellent gesture of helping the citizens distributed all over the country.

Some of the means in which the urban authorities ignored the needs of the common people and endeavored to favor the rich are :

(i) Even though the first condition of efficient movement of people in any city is “footpath”, the Dhaka city authorities have kept blind eyes on its improvement and maintenance. On many occasions they have allowed the rich people to use it as car parking, exclusive waiting space, storage space, garden, business outlet, office for the political parties etc.
(ii) The urban authorities discovered that rickshaws were the “hindrance” for the movement of the rich men’s cars. So they started eliminating those from the so called VIP roads. Now, however, they realize that the cars themselves are their worst enemies and act as obstruction for their movement even in wide roads.

It is interesting to note that at present the poor people feel amused to see that when they can somehow manage their movement in the ill-maintained footpaths and lanes by foot or rickshaws, the rich people, jammed in their own jungle of cars burn and waste fuel and suffer from severe pains. This situation however, has created golden opportunity for the car-traders to sell air-conditioned cars.

MASS TRANSIT : Quite often it is said that an efficient system of mass transit can solve Dhaka’s transportation problem. This solution in the “level of the kitchen-maids” may be workable only if the higher authorities (i.e. masters of the house) can ensure the following :
(i) Control over the number of vehicles allowable inside the city,
(ii) Control over the entry of vehicles from outside,
(iii) Number of inhabitants etc.

In case the urban authorities continue its present program of increasing the city by absorbing the fringe areas, increase of allowable heights, construction on vacant lands etc., then mass-transit in large-bodied vehicles would not at all help because in that case “the roads would eventually be jammed by large bodied vehicles”.

MORE ABOUT THE PROBLEM :
Even the affluent and developed countries could not still solve their transportation problem by keeping dependence on private cars. However, such countries themselves are manufacturers and exporters of cars, they never express anything that may go against their business. The phenomenon may be clear from the following examples :

(i) In Nigeria vehicles from the entire country used to rush to the southern port city, Lagos, creating tremendous jam. In order to reduce the number of cars, on one occasion the city authorities introduced a rule of allowing cars with odd (or even) numbers on alternate days. The problem was even more aggravated because many people bought a second car.

(ii) The developed countries love to advise the oil rich Nigeria for obvious reasons. As per their advise, the government of Nigeria started constructed multi-level vehicular roads (raised expressways) in Lagos for solving the problem of crossing, avoid jam and reduce travel time. After those were constructed in as many as 4 levels (as of 1990) it was seen that a vehicle could travel the entire 45 kilometer length of the city in 45 minutes. But then when a vehicle came down on land to reach its destination at say 2 kilometer apart, it needed several hours. Those who advocate multi-level vehicular streets should keep in mind that all vehicles using those roads at one time shall get down to the ground level to create extreme jam and in fact lengthening the travel time. Well, the situation could be made advantageous if only buses were allowed to ply in the expressways. However, being ex-colonial countries, neither Nigeria nor Bangladesh can not ever think of a solution that would help only the common people and not the car owners.

In the city normally the vehicles running in the main road continue journey while those on the branch roads are kept waiting. However, when the number of vehicles on the main road increases reducing the inter-vehicular distance 3 or 4 meters, the above rule needs to be reversed. At this stage the vehicles from the branch roads “by rule” are given the first preference, while those on the main road keep waiting. With the advantage and consequences of the multi-level expressways Lagos city has to adopt the same. Intelligent men might understand that unless the conventional rule is reversed, then no vehicle from the branch road would ever be able to enter the main road.

(iii) Flyovers smash the charm of a city. It is extremely difficult to construct flyover in the major two directions in built-up cities, not to say anything about left and right connections. Flyover without provisions of right and left turns create tremendous problem for the people to reach their destination. Standard flyovers with left-right turns (popularly known as clover-leaf) in spacious cities even do not save travel time because the vehicles need to move through large distances. However, since the drivers do not have to keep waiting, they feel psychological consolation at the cost of wastage of fuel.

The ironic fact is, the use of private vehicles in large number has not been able to solve transportation problems in any part of the world. Multiple level vehicular roads create tremendous environmental and sound pollution. Wider roads allowing speedy vehicles increase possibility of accidents. Accidents taking place in wide or multiple level roads result is severe damage and loss of life. One may imagine how difficult it is to send help to such nearly inaccessible places. The car-manufacturers and sellers are super-active to hide these facts. On the other hand they introduce passive solutions like, introducing cars with movie, internet, coffee-making facilities, provisions for exercise, book reading etc., saying these save the time of the owner. In the developed countries they usually bribe the politicians to adopt projects utilizing cars. Their influences have entered the arena of education also. The curriculum of Physical planning courses in those countries has been prepared ensuring maximum use of private cars. The universities of Bangladesh also have prepared their curriculum for those courses after their curriculums. In such a situation it is no wonder that the physical planners having degrees from home or abroad do not learn to think differently.

In course of his long experience in the developed countries, Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan realized the above mentioned problem. On one occasion he opined, “The workers housing should be established nearest to the industries such that they can come on foot spending minimum time. The owners of industries love to construct those at far away places where land is cheap. They use buses to transport them. Such a system takes away considerable leisure time of the workers, involve unnecessary use of vehicles and create permanent loss of gas (gasoline or fuel) from the limited world reserve of fuel”. It was natural that his intelligent advice was not given importance by the capitalistic countries. But the irony is, what a Bangladeshi engineer could think while living in a western country, our planners fail to realize the same even after living in this poor country.

HOW THE PROBLEM CAN BE SOLVED : We shall now present our proposal to solve the problem. One serious lacking of our policy makers is, they always look at the transportation problem as a “physical problem” and thus endeavor to solve it through “physical measures” only. The fact is, transportation problem by nature has two aspects : physical and administrative, and needs to be addressed accordingly.

The transportation problem of Dhaka city has to be addressed from the following platforms :
01. CENTRAL GOVERNMENT’S DECISION AND COMMITMENT ON SOME FACTORS OF THE COUNTRY (HAVING EFFECT ON THE CITY’S TRANSPORTATION).
02. MACRO AND MICRO LEVEL ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS BY THE URBAN AUTHORITIES.
03. URBAN AUTHORITIES’ DECISIONS ON PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT.
04. URBAN AUTHORITIES’ DECISIONS ON TRANSPORT MANAGEMENT.

We shall present hereunder brief description of the above.
01. Central government’s decision on factors having effect on city’s transportation: At the very beginning the government would have to decide whether they would continue the tradition of the British and Pakistani colonial government or act as a democratic government. In democratic system not the interests of the royalties and bureaucrats, but that of the common people comes first. During British colonial period, the bureaucrats shrewdly served their own interest by appeasing the British royalties. During Pakistani colonial period they continued the same, where the affluent people from Pakistan replaced the British royalties. During the military ruled pseudo democracy (from 1975 to 1990) the bureaucrats treated the military officials as masters. Even though democracy was initiated in the country in 1990, still the bureaucrats are could not change their allegiance. Still today they take up programs and projects where from they can collect money to satisfy the political party’s and their financial interests. Since multinational companies, dishonest foreign companies and affluent businessmen unofficially finance the cost of the political parties, at times the bureaucrats are compelled to take up projects which can ensure the above conditions. The case of bribing one ex-prime minister’s son by a foreign telecommunication company for getting business is one of many unexposed cases.

Even in democratic Bangladesh the bureaucrats have established clear cut difference between the privileged group (comprising of bureaucrats, influential politicians and affluent people) and the disadvantaged group (i.e. the common people). In the above context, no positive result should be expected unless the government changes the previous attitude. In doing so they must look into the interest of the entire country and not of Dhaka city alone. We put here our specific proposal for two measures which would express their honor for democracy. These are: (a) Decentralization of central administration and (b) Introduction of Social housing.

(a) DECENTRALIZATION: A city gets the essential finance from various sources, where one principal source is government fund. Dhaka city is now getting excessive source, the ill effect of which is being seen in price hike and excess of wealth including vehicles. At this context we propose that some ministries (say 10) be transferred to 5 divisional headquarters. As soon as these ministries would be shifted, it would on one hand ease the abnormal situation of Dhaka and enormously help the economy of the divisional cities. Nowadays digital technology has rendered communication extremely easy. The above mentioned ministries would have their liaison offices in Dhaka with such provisions that all digitally transferable information and documents generated in the Divisional level would be transferred to the city and vice versa. In addition there will be provision for physical transfer of documents in special courier within 24 hours. The Ministers and other responsible personnel working in the divisions would take the help of ‘tele’ or ‘video’ conference when needed. In the greater interest of the country and as part of the solution to Dhaka city’s transportation problem, we propose that the following ministries be immediately shifted to the following divisional cities:

MINISTRIES PRESENT LOCATION NEW LOCATION (PROPOSED)
Ministry of Agriculture Dhaka Rajshahi
Ministry of Cultural Affairs Dhaka Rajshahi

Ministry of Food & Disaster Management Dhaka Barisal
Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Dhaka Barisal

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) Dhaka Sylhet
Ministry of Environment and Forest Dhaka Sylhet

Ministry of Water Resources Dhaka Khulna
Ministry of Textile and Jute Dhaka Khulna

Ministry of Chittagong Hills Tracts Affairs Dhaka Chittagong
Ministry of Commerce Dhaka Chittagong

(b) SOCIAL HOUSING : The concept of Social Housing is not yet popular in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh we are aware of two types of housing, like: (i) Government housing (or quarter), where only the government servants can live on highly reduced rent and (ii) Private housing, where both the common people and government servants can live on negotiable rents. As deviation from this concept “Social Housing” is the house constructed by the government where both the government servants and common people can live on negotiable rent.

Large cities like Dhaka is not the place where all people should live or wish to live for all time to come. The government should not patronize a system in which people, who are not essential for the city may be encouraged to live here. The system of renting houses by private owners helps huge number of non-essential people to live here. The present trend of owned-apartment has created some hindrance against the monopolistic house rent business.

Even though better than the renting system, the present system of owned-apartments have got severe defect. Usually man rent house for temporary living. On the other hand they purchase house or apartment for security and as an asset for all time to come. However, the way owned-apartments are being constructed, sold and managed, these no more exist as “permanent asset”. At present the owners of the apartment building are given equal right and share on the land. In almost all the apartment buildings no owner would ever be able to construct an independent house on the tiny land he owns. Land is usually known as a permanent asset. However, a tiny land mentioned above in no way can be treated as permanent asset.

Multi-level apartment buildings are constructed with cement and steel. These materials have fixed life-span. The life of a building depends upon on its design, system of construction, environment, natural hazard etc. Even if we ignore the case of natural hazard which may smash a building at any time, all buildings have limited life. In Engineering field the life of a brick building is taken to be about 60 years and that of a concrete building, 80-100 years. Even though the prediction has been proved to have been true in case of brick building, it has not been still been proved for concrete building, because the age of cement and concrete still did not came to this level. From the available information, one of the earliest apartment building constructed in Mumbai collapsed after 30 years.

Even though the apartment buildings constructed in Bangladesh at the initial stage may get longer life, the recently built buildings may not be that lucky. We can explain the reason here. Nowadays, the developers treat and use apartment buildings as “salable commodity”. Earlier apartment buildings were constructed at the initiative of a number of owners, who used to sell the excess units to outsiders. Naturally the owners in their own interest used to place utmost importance on the life and safety of the building. But after such buildings have turned to “salable commodities” the developer’s interest lies in increasing the difference between cost of construction and sale of units. After the sale is complete the developer is relieved from all responsibilities including the life of the building. The developer knows that good finishing fetch good price and defects like (i) use of less water in curing, (ii) less cement in mortar, (iii) old or inadequate bars in concrete can never be detected after the building has been finished. The developer can easily lessen the cost of construction in the following ways :

(i) Inadequate structural design,
(ii) Excellent structural design, but less use of materials during construction,
(iii) Defective system of construction.

For example, curing or ‘application of water at proper time’ ensures strength of concrete. Life and strength of concrete depends upon proportion of cement and sand. It is possible for a developer to make money by ignoring these factors, where the prospective buyers have no scope to know those.

In the above situation it is possible that the apartments treated as “salable commodity” would get lesser life-span. Now let us see what may happen after a building is collapsed. Let us say, a building with 40 owners has collapsed ten years after construction. Now say, the number of owners by this time has increased to 60. Considering the realities including loopholes in our judiciary, is there any possibility that these 60 owners would be able to organize themselves and take a program for the reconstruction of the building ? The inevitable reality is to sell the land to the companies at negotiated price. And that also would be possible if none of the 60 owners come up with any law suit regarding ownership.

In the above situation it is logical and at the same time very easy for the government to introduce Social Housing. Also the situation is ripe for it. For example, in Dhanmondi the land has been given lease for 99 years. After the expiry of this period the government may introduce social housing here. Most of the buildings in Azimpur government housing society are now in dilapidated condition. In place of repairing, the government can take a program of providing social housing here. In this endeavor the government may go for construction of 20 or more storied apartment buildings with no less than 100 ft inter-building distance. When used in social housing concept the government can collect considerable rent from such buildings. The most encouraging thing on the part of the government will be, the government can declare that for the first time in the history of this sub-continent they could ignore and go beyond the colonial tradition of providing accommodation for the government servants only.

We have explained how hundreds or thousands of apartment-owners are being deprived of the concept of “permanent asset” in their “salable commodity”. We have also explained how the house owners get the scope of living in the city, even when they are not essential here. Introduction of “Social Housing” can efficiently take care of both these problems.

02. Macro and Micro level administrative decisions by the Urban Authorities : In the Macro-level solution, the urban authorities may decide on the manageable physical extent of Dhaka city. At present the land enclosed by the waters of Buriganga, Sitalakhya and Turag rivers may be taken to be maximum manageable extent of the city. This region may be called Central Dhaka. Then, its extensions on the other banks of the rivers may be termed as Dhaka East, Dhaka North etc. These sub-regions should be developed as independent cities in points of utilities, infra-structure and socio-economic facilities. Large bodied vehicles like inter-district bus, train, steamship etc. should not be allowed beyond the water barrier of the central city. Also all vehicles entering Central Dhaka should be subjected to payment of toll.

It should be noted here that unless a suitable mechanism for controlling the vehicles coming from all corners of the country can be developed, all endeavors for solving transportation problem, whatever expensive or unique those might be, would fail.

In Micro-level solution, the urban authorities may go for recreating the “Wards”. Now Ward, the mini-administrative area of the city cannot be physically identified. In the new system of demarcation, the authority would take the chunk of urban areas enclosed by wide roads on all sides and none of such roads would be longer than 2 kilometers. Each of the wards will be numbered and given a name. Then the population of each ward will be enumerated. On the basis of this number the authorities would find out the required number of essential services like (i) Medical and healthcare centre, (ii) Financial institutions, (iii) One stop bill payment booth, (iv) Children’s school, (v) Vegetable fish meat market, (vi) Medicine shop, (vii) Community centre, (viii) Postal or Courier and parcel service points, (ix) Repair shop for household gadgets etc. After finalizing the number the authority would invite information from the existing establishments. Then the urban authority would give recognition to the requisite number of such establishments on the basis of their facilities and locations. The recognized establishments would be allowed to continue activities at reduced tax, where as others would have to pay taxes at enhanced rate. This rule would help to establish the required number of facilities, and at the same time, eliminate the excess ones from each ward. As soon as the inhabitants would find their essential facilities within 2 kilometers (which is within walking limit of Bangladesh) they would use fewer vehicles for availing these purposes. Inside each Ward, user-friendly vehicles like cycle, trolley etc. should be encouraged and entry of bus, truck etc. should be restricted and controlled.

03. Physical developments: (a) FOOTPATH : The urban authorities should place immense importance on footpath. Those should be constructed with specifications to satisfy the following : (i) Peoples’ easy walking, (ii) Kids’ normal travel and also in perambulator, (iii) Movement of handicapped persons wheel chair and (iv) People’s movement with loaded trolleys. In all possible cases those should be covered with soft or hard roof.

(b) FOOT OVER BRIDGE : The travel time in the urban area can be shortened by speedy vehicles. Such movements however, cause road accidents. It is interesting that even though Dhaka city is at present experiencing tremendous traffic jam resulting in slow movement, there is meager road accident. It has been observed that during long holidays when the traffic in the city decreases and the cars move at speed there happen accidents. Since our endeavor is to shorten travel time, we have to ensure quicker velocity of vehicles. In order to ensure that the urban authorities would have to construct foot-over bridge at regular intervals. In all possible cases these should be covered to protect people during inclement weather.

04. Transport management: In a democratic country the government cannot discourage people from using cars. However, it is crystal clear that the narrow and inadequate roads of Dhaka city in no way can sustain the cars already owned by the present population, not to say anything about their future number, taking into account the increase of population allowable under the provisions made by the urban authorities. In such a situation the solution is to ensure such type of alternate arrangement that even the owners would prefer to use those. As part of this program superior quality school buses need be introduced at subsidized rate for the children. Staff buses with only two-times-per-day use is in no way economic for Bangladesh and it should be discouraged by imposing heavy tax. Quite often it is said that introduction of luxury buses would be able to discourage use of cars. This is partly correct. As a matter of fact such buses in no way would be able to attract the car owners, unless there is efficient and comfortable system of (i) Ticketing, (ii) Waiting, (iii) Boarding and (iv) Time-maintaining provisions. Vesting all these in the hands of the profit-hungry transport businessmen can never ensure the expected goal. The government would have to treat it as a service sector and manage things, where the vehicles may be owned by private owners but management will be done by the government.

CONCLUSION : As of now the story of the Bangladesh government’s failure to solve the transportation problem of Dhaka city is a story discussed even by the kids. Every time a new government rises to power it promises to solve it and declares some programs. At times they impose restrictions, mostly on the movement of vehicles used by the poor, spends considerably on physical developments that might help the rich class. In the long run, however, it is seen that in place of solving, those have further complicated the problem. Also, the inquiry team formed by the contemporary government reveals corruption and kick-back cases of the previous government.

Now, Bangladesh is being ruled by the government formed by Bangladesh Awami League and its allies. They have won landslide victory in the election held in 2009. As usual, this government also has revealed some corruptions of the previous government in this sector. Following the suit of their predecessors they have expressed promises and declared programs for solution. With their previous experiences the common people of the country and specially the suffering population of Dhaka city know, their promises and programs are going to meet the previous fate. It really is destined to be so, because never before any government felt for in-depth analysis of this extremely complicated problem.

We have endeavored to raise the issues related with this extremely complicated problem. The limited page of the paper does not allow detail discussion. We have endeavored to mention the vital and decisive points, without the consideration of which such a complicated problem cannot be solved. If seen superficially some of the points may seem to be of secondary or tertiary importance. A second thought however would reveal that those are quite important. Ignoring these in fact resulted in the failures of the previous programs.

It may be seen that the proposals we have placed above is not at all expensive in comparison with what the government at times suggest. One may easily imagine the enormous cost of flyovers, expressways, mono-rails, metro etc. These solutions would in no way reduce the travel time and expenditure of the people. In our proposal there is no proposal for such physical development. Even though some of our proposal may seem costly for the time being, those might prove economic in the long run. Thus shifting of the ministries from Dhaka city to a distant divisional city might seem “costly” now. But after the shifting has taken place the government may discover that running this ministry in that location is much cheaper than doing the same in Dhaka. Arrangements for lessening the need for journey by arranging or re-arranging the necessities near to the place of living, encouraging people to walk on easier footpaths etc. would lessen people’s dependence on cars and buses. And that would save huge foreign currency of this poor the country that is now spent in import of cars, buses, spare parts and fuels.

In materializing our proposal what the government needs is not money, but courage and honesty. They would need democratic and mission-like mentality to break apart the colonial traditions. Let us hope the present government would be able to show that.

The various ways and means of solving transportation problem by using less number of vehicles is something that the physical planners of Bangladesh would have to “invent” by themselves. They would not get any assistance in this endeavor from the developed countries, because such measures go highly against their car-related business.

Bangladesh is a poor country with excess of population and no dearth of problems. For such a country failure in any costly program may prove fatal. We hope, in view of their numerous failures in the past, we believe and request that this time the concerned authorities would strive for hinest and intelligent solutions.

This paper is available from the link : http://ssrn.com/abstract=1476115. (SSRN, New York, USA)

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