Rickshaw: Environment Comrade Vehicle’s Departure

November 6, 2007 | By | Reply More

Rickshaw not scatters black smoke ,it does not take much more place to pull as private car as well as there is no alternative of rickshaw for short distance journey. So, people of our country expect that the project of closing employment sector of poor people naming this as rickshaw ejecting and rehabilitation project of World Bank should be stopped.“I am pulling rickshaw for seven years. My house is in Rampur district. My Father-Mother, Sister-Brother lives in the village. I send them two thousand taka every month. I pass my life in Dhaka with rest money” – Md. Deloar Hossain said this with hesitation. This twenty seven years old rickshaw puller has not married yet. He can not think about his marry for his low income.

Abdul Malek Raton of Tangile has lost his everything at the time of the flood of eighty eight. After that, he has come to Dhaka. At first he started rickshaw pulling. I asked what your present condition is. He answered “My income was sound through rickshaw pulling initially. Three or four hundred taka existed everyday in my pocket. I was passing my happy life with one son and two daughters. Suddenly, pulling rickshaw on highway was stopped. My income has got down to half. Now I earn one or one fifty taka daily. I married off my daughters under compulsion. Child marriage? He said yes. I had nothing to do else. I could not feed them if I not married off them. Now, my income is diminishing gradually. Road is going to be closed.

These are the depositions of the rickshaw pullers of Dhaka. Poverty Reduction Strategy has been made. But poverty is not diminishing. On the other hand, authority is decreasing the income of rickshaw pullers through restricting rickshaw pulling. Their spending of life is becoming more and more critical. Economy is degrading.

Confiscated rickshaw
Restricting rickshaw was initiated at the reign of formal government H. M. Ershad. Then restricting rickshaw was announced in Motejhel area suddenly. Rickshaw pullers did movement against this announcement. Then, government of that time counted rickshaw through licensing. But rickshaw restricting program was ineffective in a few days. After that, pulling rickshaw in capital is restricted frequently from 2002.Rickshaw pulling from Gabtoly to Rasel square was restricted on that time. Next, rickshaw pulling from Rasel square to Ajempur was restricted from 17 December 2004. Arguments of authorities
ware same behind restricting rickshaw pulling .They claimed that rickshaw is the main cause of traffic jam. Speed of mechanical vehicles increased from 15 to20 kilometers per hour for restricting rickshaw pulling from Gabtoly to Kolabagan of Mirpur road. Subsequently, rickshaw was restricted on several roads including Aliphand road, Shabag road,Motsho Bhaban road, Presclub road. But, what is the effect of restricting rickshaw on rickshaw pullers? The answer of this question is found in a report of Human Development Recherché Centre (HDRC). According to this report, the monthly income of rickshaw pullers has decreased by 32% for restricting rickshaw on above roads. The average income of the rickshaw pullers of these roads was three thousand eight hundred thirty six taka which is now two thousand six hundred taka only.

On the other hand, rickshaw passenger Shoriful Rahman claimed that people’s trouble has increased for restricting rickshaw. According to his view, getting bus is so distressing at office time. We have to remain standing for a long time to get setting service bus. Then, seat is not available after getting bus. He said that I went to my office in Dhanmondi by rickshaw before the restriction of rickshaw. It was quite time killing but comfortable. Girls’ suffering has also increased for restricting rickshaw. Sumona Mallik, student of Eden collage, said, “I face a lot of trouble at intervals when I receive blow of passengers at the time of getting up in local bus. Besides, I can not get any auto rickshaw or taxicab because it is so costly for me. From all perspectives, rickshaw was suitable for us.” We have known through a local investigation that at present rickshaw is restricted on Science laboratory road, New elephant road even Bata signal road. In spite of this initiative traffic jam is available on these roads almost every time. So, question arises about the effectiveness of restricting rickshaw to remove traffic jam.

Endangered economy
What is the condition of your income after restricting rickshaw? I asked this question to rickshaw puller Robiul. He answered, “We are facing big trouble for restricting rickshaw on high way. Our income has decreased to twelve-sixteenth part. Now, my income is half. I can not send money to my family like before. I have brought my youngest son in city for selling nut to increase my income separating him from his school. Now, many rickshaw pullers’ life is as difficult as rickshaw puller Robiul’s life. We have been informed from an investigation of Technology Today that an enormous number of rickshaw pullers’ families live in village. For this reason, we are observing direct reaction against decreasing the income of rickshaw pullers from the villages. According to HRC’s research, rickshaw pullers expended 64% of their monthly income personally and sent 36% of their monthly income to their family in village. At present, the rates have decreased excessively. For this reason, poverty has increased in villages. Rickshaw pullers’ live is becoming more and more uncertain.

Now, rickshaw pullers have to work hard because of their falling income. Rickshaw pullers who worked half-day are trying to work full-day now. Many rickshaw pullers had driven rickshaw for 15 to 20 days and went to their families in village for rest. But that state does not exist now. They have decreased their time of taking rest. According to a survey of WBB trust, rickshaw pullers exceed 30 thousand miles with passengers and carry almost 100 ton goods to nearer distances every year. Vehicles which are not mechanical are the place of work for almost 80% people. 85% vehicles of small roads
are not mechanical. Rickshaw pulling and repairing is the job sector of almost 12 lack 50 thousand people in Bangladesh. Seventy five percent of them are in cities. Almost 50 lack people are depended on rickshaw pulling for their livelihood.

Gin pig Bangladesh
World Carfree Network claims that World Bank is working behind extirpating rickshaw from Dhaka. World Bank thinks that driving rickshaw and mechanical vehicles on similar road creates much more traffic jam. More black smoke is emerged from vehicles for more traffic jam. It harms the environment. Besides, it takes augmented time for communication. For these reasons, rickshaw should be extirpated from the roads of Dhaka.

But many people are not prohibiting this logic of World Bank. According to source, World Bank wants to remove the vehicles which are not mechanical and increase the presence of mechanical vehicles on the road of Dhaka city. Dependence on mechanical vehicles will increase through this initiative. Bangladesh has insufficient oil to drive mechanical vehicles. For this reason we will have to be depended on foreigners to fulfill our required oil. World Bank wants to create dependency on foreign vehicles instead of local vehicles.
World Bank has initiated Dhaka Urban Transport Project at Dhaka in Bangladesh. Why Dhaka city is the gin pig of their experiment among the world? Rickshaw ejecting expedition is under this project. We have known about this project and ejecting rickshaw from World Bank’s website that travel time has decreased by 30 percent at rickshaw free zones of Dhaka. According to a research, rickshaw free zone users have supported this process. But previous rickshaw pullers and passengers of short distance of present rickshaw free zones are the sufferers of this process. According to the information of the research, World Bank is thinking about the rehabilitation of the sustaining a loss rickshaw pullers. Bangladesh government have already taken a project to rehabilitate the rickshaw pullers. Almost 15 million dollars will be expended to train the rickshaw pullers for creating alternative employment. Professor Anu Mohammad, distinguished economist, said about the rickshaw ejecting and rehabilitation project that poor or lower- middle-class people are not regarded in the transportation planning of Dhaka city. But many people of this city do movements through walking and rickshaw. Lower-middle-class and middle-class people are very much depended on rickshaw. Private car has got much more emphasis in the transportation planning which has been prepared according to the instruction of World Bank. But the number of private car rider in Dhaka is only 5 percent.

World Bank gave fifteen million dollars
World Bank gave fifteen million US dollars as a grant on 31 May for the rehabilitation of rickshaw pullers. This money will be expended for only the rehabilitation of poor rickshaw pullers. This money will be used appropriately by Palli Karma Shohayok Foundation (PKSF). Samsuddin Ahmad, senior economic expert and project team leader of World Bank, said to news organization that this grant will operate the rehabilitation project successfully. This money will be used for 3.50 million rickshaw
pullers and almost 3 lack 35 thousand poor people of city. Hopefully, this fund will assist the sufferers of ejecting rickshaw. But Professor Anu Mohammad has different opinion about the usage of this fund of World Bank. He said that majority of the plans in our country are depended on getting fund of World Bank. For this reason, these plans are disordered and against public interest in most cases. Person interest is also related with these plans. Recently, World Bank has given 15 million dollars for ejecting rickshaw and rehabilitation. A cruel matter is related with this issue because rickshaw pullers have no definite residence. They will not be available after the ejection of them. At that moment, this money of rickshaw pullers will be sent to consultants and NGOs. So, rickshaw pullers will be neglected. We went to know about the rehabilitation project of rickshaw pullers from the rickshaw pullers. They said that they know nothing about this project. Old rickshaw puller Hasam said, I am becoming older now. I do not work as much as before. Rehabilitation project of government can be helpful for us. May be I will pass my rest life happily through this project. But anybody else has not said this until now.
Rickshaw puller Blaet said, “What is rehabilitation of rickshaw pullers? Owners of rickshaw want to increase rent but passengers want to pay a lesser amount of rent. I am passing my life with great difficulty. I have known about our rehabilitation at first from you. Today I will ask my owner that how I can get it.” How can I get it?

Save rickshaw
Rickshaw puller Mojebor of Mogbajar said with frustrated voice, I pulled rickshaw from Eskaton to Shabag for 5 taka. I had to pass little distance through highway. But now I have to pass too much distance unnecessarily and I not get just fare according to my labor. It is needed to fix our fare which will be equitable at law.

Mojebor’s home district is Bogura. He earns almost 200 taka daily through rickshaw pulling. He said, I have four members in my family who are totally depended on my income. I have to send them almost two thousand taka every month.
Maruf Rahaman , project officer of WBB trust, said, “We do not cut down our head at the time of headache. We have solution of rickshaw problem. We have to remember that rickshaw is an important vehicle and it is possible to save this vehicle.”

He said, “12 feet wide lanes can be constructed beside the footpaths of main roads of Dhaka. Traffic police have to discharge the accessibility and parking of mechanical vehicles on these lanes.”

He added, “At present many roads of Dhaka are 110 feet wide. It is possible to construct lane on these roads separately for the vehicles which are mechanical and not mechanical.
About the same issue, Anu Muhammad said, “Nobody pulls rickshaw for his enjoyment. Industries are becoming closed and poor people are becoming jobless. Rickshaw
pulling is a open sector of job. In most cases, males come to town for rickshaw pulling at the time of dearth. They return to their village when their condition is better. So, it is a short time job for the poor people and extremely important for the frequenting of middle-class people. Government should build required infrastructure for rickshaw pulling in Dhaka.

Rickshaw is used as a vehicle in 42 cities of North America and 69 cities of the world. Where advanced world has taken rickshaw as an alternative environment comrade vehicle there why we want to eliminate rickshaw? Alternative roads should be constructed for non motorized vehicle rickshaw and bicycle instead of ejecting these. Rickshaw not scatters black smoke ,it does not take much more place to pull as private car as well as there is no alternative of rickshaw for short distance journey. So, people of our country expect that the project of closing employment sector of poor people naming this as rickshaw ejecting and rehabilitation project of World Bank should be stopped.

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  1. mahabubul bari says:

    Knowledge-based Transport Planning and More Rickshaw Bans in the Dhaka City

    Mahabubul Bari

    Debra Efroymson

    For several years, discussion of transport issues and problems in Dhaka has had a singular focus on the supposed contribution of cycle rickshaws to traffic congestion, and the need to facilitate movement of automobiles. In line with this analysis of the transport situation, various projects have been undertaken, focusing on banning rickshaws and rickshaw vans from major roads, and sometimes relegating them to narrow rickshaw lanes. The problem of car parking has been addressed mainly through insistence on provision of separate parking places by offices, shops and restaurants even by enacting law under the building code. It is a matter of deep regret that not a single transport policy decision was undertaken after conducting a proper scientific or knowledge-based analysis of the transport problems of the city. It has become a standard norm to take important policy decisions rather arbitrarily, whether it is rickshaw ban or Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for the city.
    The results of these various initiatives have been made clear through government-mandated studies, including the HDRC report on the rickshaw ban on Mirpur Road (HDRC 2004), and the DUTP after-study report (DUTP 2006). The results, almost astonishingly negative, would suggest that the basis for the policy decisions and transport plans are flawed. This would be less than surprising when considering the fact that important transport policy decisions were taken without employing any knowledge-based approach or scientific study.
    Moreover, despite the strong evidence of increased travel costs and traffic congestion, transport planning continues to focus on expanding the role of the automobile and reducing that of fuel-free transport. That pattern has been reflected by the further extension of the rickshaw bans on more city roads. In this connection, readers are requested to draw their attention to the following news item:

    Paltan-Bijoynagar Road made off-limits to rickshaws
    Staff Correspondent
    “Traffic Division of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police made Purana Paltan-Bijoynagar Road off-limits to rickshaws from Thursday. The decision was taken at a meeting on Wednesday. All the deputy commissioners of four traffic divisions were present at the meeting. M Sayedur Rahman, deputy commissioner (south) of traffic division, told New Age on Thursday that the authorities banned plying of non-motorised vehicles on the stretch between Purana Paltan and Bijoynagar to ease traffic congestion.” The New Age, Dhaka, Friday, October 19, 2007”.
    This arbitrary decision making process as depicted in the news item draws attention to a number of disturbing questions as follows:
    Do the police have the authority to ban or restrict rickshaw movements?
    If yes, from whom do they get that authority?
    Do the police have similar authority to limit the movement of motorised vehicles when there is not sufficient road capacity for them, e.g. narrow lanes, which cannot accommodate cars without causing traffic jams?
    Probably not, it is therefore clear that such misguided policy actions are being pursued just to give absolute priority in the transport system of the city for a tiny minority of car owners, i.e. the so called elite section of the society.
    Do the police have requisite training to make proper transport decisions?
    If so, why dies Dhaka needs organisation like DTCB, when the police can do the job better?
    The rickshaw bans are being extended beyond Mirpur Road, but it seems unlikely that those bans were carried out by the police, rather than by a section of the powerful bureaucrats behind the scene. It may be mentioned here that after failure of the rickshaw ban in the demonstration project of the Mirpur Road, the World Bank has set the standard of extending further bans on the condition that: “Any future support from the World Bank would be possible only if it can be demonstrated that aggregate positive impacts of NMT-free conversion on transport users and transport providers outweigh the aggregate negative impact”.
    It is matter of deep regret that policies continue to give car owners absolute priority, while ignoring the fundamental principle of any transport project appraisal, that is, that net user benefits of any transport intervention must exceed net loss.
    Now, it may be appropriate to concentrate on, possibly, the most important argument in the news item, that is, “the authorities banned plying of non-motorised vehicles on the stretch between Purana Paltan and Bijoynagar to ease traffic congestion.” In the following paragraphs answer to this question and other related aspects of such transport policy interventions, will be analysed in the light of knowledge-based and participatory decision-making approach.
    Did the previous rickshaw ban in Dhaka City ease traffic congestion?
    The answer lies in the “After Project” report of the government mandated study of the Mirpur Road Demonstration project (DUTP 2006), where fuel free transport was banned.
    It might be appropriate to look into the issue considering a number of key congestion indices with respect to before and after scenarios of the Mirpur Road Demonstration project as follows:
    o Average journey time per vehicle
    o Average journey time per person
    o Journey reliability
    o Throughput (total number of vehicles per time interval that pass a point on the carriageway)
    Average Journey time per Vehicle
    The Table 1 shows the comparison of travel times of fuel dependent (motorised) vehicles between 2000 and 2005. Considering large variability of the travel time data, it is evident that there is no statistically significant difference of travel times of fuel dependent or motorised vehicles between pre and post rickshaw ban scenarios. This means that no travel time gain for fuel dependent vehicle was achieved due to rickshaw ban.
    Table 1: Comparison of 2000/2005 Travel Times (average of two directions) in Mirpur Road Corridor (Source: DUTP 2006)
    Year Average Speed
    (km/h) Travel Time
    (min.) Delay
    (sec) No of Stops Delay in Stop
    Gabtoli – North South Road (Demonstration Corridor)
    2005 19.9 36.1 717 20 36
    2000 19.2 38.3 720 17 42
    % Difference 3.6% -5.7% -0.4%

    The Table 2 demonstrates the comparison of travel times of buses between 2000 and 2005. Although there is no statistically significant difference of travel times for fuel dependent vehicles between pre and post FFT ban scenarios, the travel times for buses did undergo significant deterioration with a 26.1% increase of travel times. This means that bus congestion has increased significantly due to imposition of rickshaw ban in the Mirpur Road demonstration corridor.
    On balance average vehicle congestion in terms of journey time per vehicle has increased significantly due to the rickshaw ban.
    Table 2: Comparison of 2000/2005 Travel Times for Buses in along Mirpur Road Corridor (Source: DUTP 2006)
    Bus Line Year Speed
    (km/h) Travel Time (min) No of Stops
    Line 7: Gabtoli to Gulistan Via Neel Khate 2005 13.2 50.2 45.2
    2000 17.0 39.8 45.2
    % Change -22.4% 26.1%

    Average journey time per person
    Bus travel has worsened following the FFT ban, with a 26.1% increase in travel time; passenger travels by bus has become slower than by rickshaw. Thus all the bus passengers (28.1% of total passengers)—both those who continue to travel by bus in pre- and post-project scenarios, and those who were forced to shift from rickshaws—have experienced significant increase in travel times.
    Impacts of the project on car passengers who have been riding a car both pre- and post-project are more or less neutral, as there is no significant difference in travel time.
    The passengers of motorised para-transit who continue to travel both in pre- and post-project scenarios are likely to suffer increase in average journey times. While there is no significant difference in travel times between scenarios, the times required to find a driver who would be willing to go for short trips have gone up substantially as per HDRC report (HDRC 2004) thereby increasing average travel times per person.
    Despite being subjected to a ban on Mirpur Road, rickshaws remain the most popular means of transport in the corridor, accounting for 30% of all trips. Rickshaw passengers have become net losers, being forced to take long detours using congested side roads, and thereby substantially increase their travel time.
    These evidences from the after project studies prove that congestion in terms of average journey time per person have increased significantly after rickshaw ban in the Mirpur Road demonstration corridor.

    Journey Reliability
    Both DUTP after project study (DUTP 2006) and HDRC studies reported significant deterioration of waiting times for bus passengers. Again, as reported in the HDRC report, baby taxi operators are reluctant to take short trips, causing significant increases in waiting times for passengers. Similarly, finding suitable taxicabs at an affordable cost has become increasingly troublesome and time-consuming for short trips.
    It is therefore clearly evident that journey reliability of the Mirpur Road demonstration project deteriorated significantly due to imposition of rickshaw ban. This in turn represents increase of congestion.
    Throughput (total number of vehicles per time interval that pass a point on the carriageway)
    Although it might not be appropriate to compare throughputs between a FFT free road and a mixed vehicles road, it is obvious from the Table 3 that number of vehicles that pass at North of Dhanmodi R#2 of Mirpur Road, decreased significantly both in terms of absolute number of vehicles and passenger car equivalents due to rickshaw ban. This indicates the congestion in terms of throughput has increased significantly due to rickshaw ban in Mirpur Road.
    Table 3: Comparison of 2000/2005 throughputs at North of Dhanmondi Road #2 Section of Mirpur Road (Source: DUTP 2006)
    Road section of Mirpur Road Year Vehs/hr PCE/hr
    North of Dhanmondi R#2 2000 167235 96112
    North of Dhanmondi R#2 2005 55822 55930
    Difference % -66.62% -41.81%
    Again, although passenger carrying capacities of the whole network under investigation were found to increase on average by 30% due to a significant increase of bus services under a private sector-driven initiative, increase in passenger capacity for the demonstration project was only 15%. Again, a careful analysis of data reveals that nearly total elimination of FFT combined with a very high increase in bus service resulted in only a 15% increase in passenger capacity, whereas a small decrease in cars combined with only a modest increase in bus service resulted in a 27% increase in passenger capacity in a VIP road, which has been under FDT-only operation in the base case, indicating that as far as road capacity is concerned the problem is cars, not rickshaws.

    Whether car more efficient than rickshaws in terms of road space occupancy?
    Despite constant claims of the city officials that rickshaws are the main source of traffic jams, data indicate that rickshaws are far superior to cars as far as road space occupancy is concerned (see Table 4). In the base case i.e. before fuel free transport ban, rickshaws made up 69.8% of vehicles, yet utilised only 43.5% of road space to transport 59.4% of passengers (all trips). Cars made up only 6.4% of vehicles, yet occupied as much as 29.9% of the road space in the base case to transport far fewer passengers (5.5%) than by rickshaw.
    Despite being removed from the main roads, rickshaws are still the most popular mode of transport, serving 30% of the passengers, whereas cars serve only 8.5% of all trips (11% of vehicular trips) while requiring the greatest share of road space (54.2%). Although the modal share of cars in overall has gone up only 3.0%, they now claim about 25% more road space than prior to FFT ban. If one considers the additional parking space required for them, total road space required would be much higher. It is clear that a combination of fuel-free transit and public transit would be far superior to a fuel-dependent transport and public transit option.
    Table 4: Road Space Occupancy Impacts of DUTP on Mirpur Demonstration Road (Sources: DUTP 2006, STP 2005 and HDRC 2004)
    Year Attribute Light
    4-whl. Buses Cycle
    2000 % Modal Share of All Trip
    (HDRC 2004) 5.5% 10.7% 59.4%
    2000 % Modal Share of Vehicular Trip
    (HDRC 2004) 6.4% 12.6% 69.8%
    2000 % Space on the Main Road Link 29.9% 5.2% 43.5%
    2000 % Passenger on the Main Road Link 13.6% 37.4% 30.6%
    2005 % Modal Share of All Trip
    (HDRC 2004) 8.5% 20.8% 29.5%
    2005 % Modal Share of Vehicular Trip
    (HDRC 2004) 11.0% 26.9% 38.1%
    2005 % space on the Main Road Link 54.2% 21.3% 0.1%
    2005 % Passengers on the Main Road Link 12.5% 79.9% 0.0%

    It may be mentioned here that despite 50% traffic growth of motorised vehicles during 2000 to 2005 period, the traffic in terms of PCE (passenger car equivalent) in Mirpur Road Demonstration corridor was lower in 2005 in comparison to that of 2000. However, despite having less number of traffic in 2005, the performance of the corridor was significantly worse under FFT free condition after the ban.
    It is therefore clearly evident from the data analysis of the DUTP after project study that congestion in terms of all major congestion indices has increased significantly due to imposition of fuel free transport ban in the Mirpur Road demonstration corridor.
    Whether net economic benefit of previous rickshaw ban in the Mirpur Road Demonstration Corridor was positive?
    The economic impact of fuel free transport ban on the demonstration corridor has been quite devastating; even DUTB’s figures indicate an enormous net loss. Revised figures suggest a colossal loss as high as Tk 1.52 billion per year for the demonstration corridor. Not a single item produced any positive benefit.
    Although banning rickshaws means that many former rickshaw passengers will now have to travel by foot, including to access buses, absolutely nothing was done to improve the situation of pedestrians. The banning of FFT in the demonstration corridor has deteriorated accessibility of the majority of road users by cutting access to side roads, destroying the continuity of the transport system, and hampering door-to-door mobility of passengers.
    The fuel free transport ban has been proved to be highly regressive in economic terms, with 83% of the road users becoming the ultimate losers as against only 1%, those who shifted from rickshaws to cars, emerging victorious.

    Figure 1 Impact of Mirpur Road Demonstration Project on Road Users

    Can fuel free transport ban ensure social equity and protect the right of the most vulnerable sections of the society?
    Any city development initiative should contribute positively to social equity and protect the right of the most vulnerable sections of the society. On the contrary the fuel free transport ban created serious social exclusion problems by depriving the most vulnerable section of the society like women, children, the elderly, the disabled and the infirm of a feasible mode of transport.
    Again, the initiative has generated undue advantages to a tiny minority of the urban elite, that is, car owners, by allocating them absolute priority in all spheres of the city transport system at the expense of mobility and convenience for the majority of the road users, i.e. pedestrians and rickshaw passengers. In the demonstration corridor, cars now make up only 8.5% of all trips but they occupy 54% of road space. Moreover, undue privilege to cars has also been manifested in terms of providing them with unlimited space for parking free of cost, giving preferential access along road links, ensuring uninterrupted movement at pedestrian crossings and giving undue long green times at traffic signals, etc.
    Above all, the FFT ban project shattered the life of the vulnerable rickshaw pullers and operators by reducing their income by 32-41% despite being forced to adopt longer working hours, caused them to take less food, and above all deprived them from their fundamental right of earning a living by a legal means.

    Knowledge-based and participatory decision-making approach for transport planning for Dhaka City
    Given the complexity of the enterprise and the fact that transport and urban planning have significant effects on the economic and overall well-being of a city’s residents, it is important not to undertake any important transport policy initiative, such as fuel free transport ban arbitrarily. It is high time to institutionalise a knowledge-based and participatory decision-making process for the Dhaka City. It is a matter of deep regret that important transport policy decisions are being taken without conducting any knowledge-based analysis by involving people who do not have proper training on transport or urban planning process. In this connection lessons can be learnt from the arbitrary decision making process of STP where a top-down planning process was adopted by involving a number of part-timers mainly drawn from the section of the urban elite without wider participation of major stakeholders and socially deprived sections of the city. As is always the case in such scenarios, the tendency to allocate resources rather arbitrarily for car-friendly (pro-rich) and capital-intensive projects becomes evidently clear from the STP approach. The experiences of different cities of Brazil prior to participatory budgeting were more or less similar, when decisions regarding urban developments were the exclusive right only for the elite and the powerful. Participatory budgeting, which has been in operation in Brazil since 1989 (Souza 2001), is emerging as an innovative urban development management theme with enormous potential to support cities in the adoption of socially integrated, inclusive, accessible, transparent, participatory and accountable urban governance and management, with a view to ensuring equitable and sustainable urban development. There is no reason why such approaches could not be institutionalised and integrated with appropriate knowledge-based process ensuring people-oriented transport developments.
    In this connection, some of the major recent transport policy decisions is worth discussion. The government has recently undertaken an initiative to build 52 kilometres of subway in Dhaka City on commercial basis using private sector financing. A similar initiative on building of a system of elevated expressway under a commercial venture is probably also in the agenda. Any move to build a mass transit system for Dhaka City is long overdue and welcome. However, there are number of issues which demand especial attention prior to undertaking major policy initiatives as follows:
    • It might not be appropriate to build a mass transit system as a commercial enterprise under a profit or loss system. A profit making public transit system would likely to be expensive and beyond the reach of the ordinary people despite some fancy claims from the investor. A profit making enterprise would have an adverse impact on social equity and integration. Such a transport system will definitely deny the most vulnerable section of the society about the right to accessibly and mobility. The very objective of the development of mass transit system, i.e. to provide an affordable public transport system for the majority will be defected if it is run on a commercial basis.
    • Despite some over optimistic claims, the underground metro will not be able to solve the transport problem of the Dhaka city on its own. Without a proper integrated demand and supply management approach it is unlikely that only an underground metro will solve the transport problem of Dhaka City.
    • It is essential that any mass transit system, such as underground metro, should be integrated appropriately with other transport sustainable transport modes, like pedestrians and FFT to make it effective.
    • The bitter experience of STP planning process should not negate the need for implementing a well-integrated mass transit system under a knowledge-based and participatory transport planning process.
    • The implementation of car incentive project like elevated expressway system would likely to eat up some of the potential benefits of the proposed mass transit system. Current anti-FFT and pro-car transport initiatives would likely to be counter-productive for the development a sustainable transport system for Dhaka City.

    Concluding Remarks
    The truism “history repeats itself” applies to those who ignore the lessons of the past and insist on forging ahead, committing the same mistakes, and experiencing the same results. It is hoped that, city authority will learn form the mistakes of the Mirpur Road Demonstration project and try to assign due importance of FFT as it deserves. Given the small modal share of autos and the many problems they cause, there should be no provision for creating more auto-only roads within urban areas, and all existing auto-only roads should be converted into mixed-use roads by properly integrating public transit, FFT and fuel-dependent transport (FDT).
    Again, while developing mass transit system for a mega city like Dhaka, efforts should be made to develop an affordable system for the majority under a well-integrated multi-modal system. It would be rather unfortunate to develop a mass transit system mainly as a profit making enterprise.
    Given the complexity of the transport planning process and the fact that transport and urban planning have significant effects on the economic and overall well-being of a city’s residents, it is important adopting a knowledge-based and participatory approach involving all segment of the stakeholders. Such participatory planning process should take into account not only technical issues about feasibility and efficiency, but also the likely effects of policies on mobility, accessibility, and quality of life for all those affected, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups, those most likely to be left out of, and highly affected by, the existing planning process.
    DUTP (2006), “Impact Assessment of DUTP: After Project”, Final Report submitted to Dhaka Transport Coordination Board, by DHV Consultants BV, the Netherlands, Japan Overseas Co., Ltd., Japan, Finnroad Oy, Finland, Operation Research Group, India, SARM Associates Ltd., Bangladesh, Desh Upodesh Ltd., Bangladesh, DevConsultants Ltd., Bangladesh in Dhaka Urban Transport Project (DUTP), Dhaka, February 2006.
    HDRC (2004), “After Study on the Impact of Mirpur Demonstration Corridor Project (Gabtoli-Russell Square)” Report prepared for Dhaka Transportation Coordination Board (DTCB), Human Development Research Centre, August 2004, Dhaka
    Souza, C. (2001) “Participatory budgeting in Brazilian cities: limits and possibilities in building democratic institutions.” Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 13 No 1, April 2001.
    It is important to have an open discussion to explore the scientific validity of the further extensions of fuel free transport bans and the justification of the building a mass transit mainly as a profit making enterprise under the perspectives of sustainable transport development in the Dhaka City. We, the proponents of sustainable transport development, would be very keen to discuss the issues at lengths at any place in Dhaka in between December 29 2007 to January 21, 2008. Active participation of DTCB, DCC, police, high officials from the Ministry of Communications, academic from universities, representatives from the development partners and members of STP advisory committee would be highly appreciated.
    Best regards,
    Mahabubul Bari
    Transport Specialist, UK

  2. syed Saiful alam says:

    March 2, 2008
    DMP’s plan for better traffic
    management fails
    The Daily New Age March 2, 2008
    Abdul Kader

    Though the Dhaka Metropolitan Police has made efforts from time to time for better traffic management in the capital city, they fail due to lack of proper enforcement of traffic rules, said a traffic engineer.
    The DMP commissioner at a meeting in October last year with four deputy commissioners of traffic division decided to strengthen the enforcement of laws against the banned 20-year-old vehicles and illegal parking, but no progress was found visible as a huge number of unfit vehicles still ply the city streets.
    The communications ministry in collaboration with DMP imposed the ban on plying of 20-year-old buses and minibuses in 2002. Even though the DMP seized a good number of outdated vehicles in few months since the imposition of the ban, now many unfit vehicles ply the streets.
    The DMP authorities also decided to take stern action against illegal parking, but it still continues in the city for lack of implementation of the decision.
    A traffic sergeant said a vehicle is fined Tk 200 for illegal parking under Section 137 of Motor Vehicles Ordinance. ‘The range of fine should be increased to stop violation of the rules.’
    Officials of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority said the revised ordinance had been submitted to the government with proposal for increasing the existing fine which was at final stage.
    Shakil Kashem, lecturer of urban and regional planning department at BUET said, ‘The authorities concerned have showed their eagerness to remove bus counters from footpaths, but they don’t dare to take steps against illegal car parking on roads and footpaths.’
    Besides, the DMP authorities from February, 2007 imposed a ban on honking on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue stretching from Shahbagh crossing to Shaheed Jahangir Gate.
    Since May 6, 2007, it was extended to different areas, including Shaheed Jahangir Gate to Abdullahpur in Uttara via Mohakhali, Kemal Ataturk Avenue to Phoenix Building via Gulshan-1 and Gulshan-2, Gabtali to Azimpur via Russell Square, Bijoy Sarani to Mohammadpur Traffic Office via Lake Road, Sheraton Hotel crossing to Kakrail crossing, Matsya Bhaban to Rainbow crossing via Kakrail Church, Science Laboratory to Matsya Bhaban via Shahbagh and Matsya Bhaban to Golap Shah mazar via old High Court crossing and Phoenix Road.
    At the beginning, traffic sergeants filed over 2,000 cases against the violators, but now there is no effective enforcement of the ban.
    A traffic engineer of a government agency said, ‘We take many good decisions regarding to traffic management, but cannot implement those decisions. As a result, the decisions that came from meetings don’t bring any fruitful result.’
    When contacted a traffic division top official said manpower for traffic management is very less than that of requirement. ‘All the sergeants and traffic police have to work on priority basis and keep themselves busy with traffic management.’
    Sayedur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Traffic Division (south) of DMP told New Age, ‘The enforcement of laws is on as usual. Every day cases are filed against illegal parking and violating the honking ban.’
    Yet people are violating the rules. An increase in the fine for violating the motor rules may prevent people from the violation of rules, he added.
    A traffic sergeant in Paltan area said, ‘The trend for violating the traffic rules is very high among the drivers. We have filed many cases, but they don’t pay heed because the amount of fine is very minimal.’
    A traffic police said bus owners association would have to take steps as their drivers abide by traffic rules. ‘Most bus companies or owners employ drivers on contractual basis who frequently violate traffic rules to save times.’
    The government has taken an initiative to amend the motor vehicles ordinance 1983 with an increase in fine apart from a citizen’s charter. The amendment process was at final stage, a BRTA official said.

  3. No cows or rickshaws; more autos in India
    From India New England Online

    India’s cities banning cows, rickshaws, but pushing autos

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. 2/8/2008 — The streets of Delhi are becoming the stage for a battle over what a modern Indian city should look like.

    It’s not an actual battle, of course — its weapons are court rulings, and its contestants are poor rickshaw-pulling city-dwellers and a growing middle class who drive private cars — but it is nonetheless changing the face of Delhi and other large cities across India, said professor Amita Baviskar in a talk she gave at Yale University on January 22.

    Entitled “Cows, Cars and Cycle-rickshaws: Bourgeois Environmentalism and the Battle for Delhi’s Streets,” the talk focused on the rise of environmentalism among middle-class city dwellers and its consequences for urban life. It was co-sponsored by Yale’s Program in Agrarian Studies and South Asian Studies Council.

    Baviskar, a professor of sociology who teaches at the Institute of Economic Growth at Delhi University, used controversy over three forms of street traffic — cattle, rickshaws and private cars — as a lens through which to analyze the political pull-and-tug surrounding the rise of city-dwellers’ environmental consciousness.

    Roughly 40,000 cows roam the streets of Delhi, unhindered because of their status in Hinduism as sacred animals. However, the government of Delhi has tried recently to round up street cattle and relocate them to dairies outside of the city — though such attempts have proved mostly unsuccessful. The campaign stems from concerns that street cattle cause traffic congestion and are a threat to hygiene and personal safety.

    Rickshaws, also a fixture of Delhi’s streets, have come under attack for similar reasons. Rickshaw-pulling is said to be a traffic hazard and is also seen by educated Delhi residents as inhumane, said Baviskar. For these reasons, Indian courts have taken steps to ban rickshaws unless licensed. Nonetheless, over 600,000 rickshaws still ply the streets, most of them illegally.

    Baviskar sees the judicial orders against these forms of street traffic as the result of a burgeoning educated middle class and the new ideas about the environment that they bring with them. This new urban elite, consisting mainly of professionals, civil servants and academics, see street cattle and rickshaws as “an embarrassment to a world-class city in the making,” said the professor.

    But campaigns against cows and rickshaws have wide-reaching consequences for those who rely on them for a living.

    The street cows are the means of livelihood for small-time dairy-owners who operate roughly 3,500 informal dairies in the city, said Baviskar. Likewise, up to five million city residents rely on rickshaws for their trade. Rickshaw-pulling is particularly important as a ready form of employment for migrants from the countryside, she noted.

    Thus, restrictions on street cattle and rickshaw-pulling “deprive a substantial portion of the working class of their means of livelihood,” said Baviskar. “Concerns about health and hazard, beauty and aesthetics, take precedence over concerns about life and livelihood [of the poor].”

    At the same time, private cars, the symbol of modern city life, are becoming more popular. The number of private cars in Delhi nearly doubled between 1997 and 2005, jumping from 1.5 million to 2.7 million, Baviskar said.

    Yet, despite their contribution to pollution and road hazards, the government has taken “no initiatives to keep cars off the roads,” she said, adding the cars are instead encouraged.

    Baviskar predicts that if these trends continue, Delhi will become a city with greatly-increased spatial segregation. “Hawkers and vendors are being increasingly banished to the outskirts of the city,” and street-cattle owners and rickshaw pullers may soon follow.

    Posted by Tez at 9:14 PM 1 comments

  4. In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, most journeys are made on foot, and bicycle rickshaws are the main form of vehicular transport. Rickshaws are an efficient, non-polluting way to move around, and for many people without job skills, pulling a rickshaw is the only option other than begging or crime.

    Under pressure from the World Bank, Dhaka City Corporation announced that from December 17 it plans to ban rickshaws and non-motorised transport from an important road in Dhaka – Mirpur Road from Russell Square to Azimpur . But this is only the test case in a much larger World Bank plan that would eliminate rickshaws from eight major roads (120 km) in this city of ten million people. Pushing rickshaws off the main roads would allow motor vehicles to become the dominant mode of vehicular transport in the city. At the same time, the World Bank is pressuring the Bangladeshi government to pass a law freeing the bank of legal liability for any harm that results from its policies.

    Increasing limitations on rickshaws in Dhaka are causing untold hardship to the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society, reducing the mobility of the middle class (particularly women, children, and the elderly), and contributing to air pollution and motorisation. Meanwhile, roads that have completely banned non-motorised transport are still some of the worst affected by traffic jams.

    World Carfree Network, concerned organisations in Bangladesh and around the world, and Dhaka’s many rickshaw unions are all prepared for action to save the rickshaws. If the most vulnerable members of the population are to go hungry, it will not happen without a fight. Banning rickshaws and building highways while people face starvation is nothing short of a war on the poor.

    Why Rickshaws should not be wiped out :

    Rickshaws are in many ways the ideal form of transport: they provide door-to-door transport at all hours and in all weather, emit no fumes, create no noise pollution, use no fossil fuels, and employ large numbers of the poorest people.
    It is not the rickshaws that are clogging the streets; it’s the cars. In 1998, the less than 9% of vehicular transport by car required over 34% of road space, while the 54% travelling by rickshaw took up only 38% of road space. The solution is not to reduce rickshaw transport, but to prevent the growth of car use, by minimising the road space and parking space allocated to cars.
    In addition, there are many simple solutions that could benefit both the rickshaw-riding majority and the car-owning minority. Instead of banning rickshaws, the World Bank and local authorities could be (a.) providing dedicated lanes and cycle rickshaw stations that would prevent conflicts between modes, (b.) implementing a programme to help improve the quality of the rickshaws, (c.) supporting cycle rickshaw drivers with training, uniforms, tariff standardisation, etc., (d.) creating cycle lanes throughout the city, and (e.) supporting public transit through bus-only lanes, bus-only turns, etc.
    Many rickshaw pullers fled from starvation in the villages. With exceptionally bad floods this year, many villages lack sufficient food and seeds. Cutting back on rickshaw income means directly attacking the ability of the poorest and most vulnerable to survive – not just the rickshaw pullers themselves, but the families and entire villages that they support.
    The Mirpur Road is a disastrous choice for a rickshaw ban, as there are no alternate roads for rickshaws, and it is extremely difficult to walk on this road because of the prevalence of street vendors.
    Accommodating the automobile over other modes is undemocratic, supporting a wealthy elite while the majority suffers. In the long run, even the rich will not benefit from rickshaw bans, as current policies will lead to more traffic jams, dirtier air and increased noise pollution.
    World Bank policy in Dhaka is inconsistent with the spirit of the World Bank’s urban transport strategy, Cities on the Move (2001), which is highly progressive and supportive of non-motorised transport.
    Rickshaws are the main source of vehicular transport for the middle class. Since there are often not alternatives within their means, a rickshaw ban is a restriction of their freedom of movement, and therefore a violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (People Action Alert and World Carfree NetworK, The Bangladesh Observer, December 20, 2004)

  5. Syed Saiful alam says:

    No Cars Allowed

    In Europe, and the UK especially, drivers are slowing down. British bus and train drivers are being re-trained to drive more smoothly, and efficiently; EasyJet and BMI ­– the first of several airlines ­– are reducing flying speeds on some routes by 2%, while the journey times of cross-channel ferries will be increased – both measures implemented to reduce fuel consumption. In America, public transport use has risen dramatically, and as J. Harry Wray mentions in his interview on page 26, “the car is in the decline.” Bicycle sales are sky-rocketing, while the automobile industry has suffered one of the most financially crippling years on record: Ford recorded a quarterly loss of US$8.7 billion, while GM will close four Hummer factories, resulting in decisions to switch production from gas-guzzlers to more efficient models.

    All fantastic news, but are we actually witnessing a minor revolution in the public’s attitude towards transportation and the environment?

    “Every time we lift our feet off the accelerator, we are improving GDP and employment,” stated Miguel Sebastián, Spain’s minister for industry, after the Spanish government proposed a plan to cut the speed limit on dual carriageways to 80 km/h as part of a bid to save EUR4.14 billion on oil imports. Whether the plans succeed is yet to be seen, but Sebastián encapsulates the thought behind the growing trend that we’ve seen over the last three months: slow down, use less oil, and you’ll save money.

    It’s undoubtedly sound advice, but is it being given for the wrong reasons? Any environmental benefit seems to be merely a by-product of the economic equation. Are we simply witnessing a global cost cutting exercise? With relation to the automobile, Roger Bysouth asks on page 22, “is this just car culture adapting to survive?” It’s maybe too soon to tell, but one certainty is that these are the first tentative steps of an inevitable post-peak-oil behavioural shift; a shift currently led by the public’s wallets, if not their hearts.

    However, as successfully demonstrated by Lund Municipality on page 10, behavioural changes are often followed by attitude changes. So, maybe we should be asking what attitude changes could follow this behavioural shift, and where they could lead. Could we see a return to the unsustainable past? Could car culture simply evolve? It’s a possibility: crude oil excreting bacteria, bio-diesel from algae, and the British International Motor Show’s “Green Village” centrepiece – filled with electric cars and the new Lotus Eco Elise (with hemp interior) ­– offer convincing evidence. After all, some people are deeply entrenched in car culture. Or, could it lead to a sustainable future, with public attitudes towards the environment changing for the better?

    Anything’s possible, and whatever the reason may be for this current change in behaviour, it’s clear that now is the time to ensure that these changes continue to develop in a sustainable direction, and to do so people must develop the right attitude towards transportation and the environment. So, it’s never been more necessary to provide an example of the trend’s logical conclusion; something this years’ Towards Carfree Cities Conference in Portland (page 16) attempts. It’s time to be more active than ever: to provide the philosophy, thought and economic structures, frameworks and impetus to stop unsustainable attitudes simply adapting and to help them develop sustainably, to ensure that we progress towards a sustainable future. Which also, thankfully, means there’s never been a better time to get (naked?) on your bike

  6. Mirpur Road: parking vs moving

    Consider the case of Mirpur Road near New Market. One entire lane remains almost entirely unused. In front of New Market it is filled with parked cars; the rest of that lane is empty, except for some pedestrians, as drivers are used to the idea that it is a parking lot rather than a lane, and thus don’t use it.
    But if the lane were converted into an additional rickshaw lane, where would car drivers park? If we assigned one parking area for private cars at any section of New Market, and charged per time used—for instance at 30 taka/hour—then two major changes would result:
    1. Those who now park all day, and thus are the least efficient users of spaces per people benefited, would park for far less time, or use alternate transport to arrive and thus not park at all;
    2. Those arriving from nearby would discover it is cheaper to take a rickshaw or walk, and would thus also arrive by other means.
    Both these changes would reduce traffic congestion on Mirpur Road. This would also mean that far less parking spaces are needed, thus freeing up spaces for shoppers who wish to enter and leave quickly—and are more likely actually to make purchases than those who abandon their car for hours. Businesses would also benefit from the increased number of shoppers who will be able to arrive by rickshaws when the size of the rickshaw lane would double.
    Syed Saiful Alam
    Volunteer, Save the Environment movement, Dhaka

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