Transport Policy Framework Jagannath University

The potential that Bangladesh could become the “transport hub” to serve the entire hinterland comprising SAGQ countries, a role similar to Rotterdam (in the Netherlands) in Europe, should be widely publicized for creation of public support within the country towards integration of transport system. To reap the potential benefit envisaged above it would be necessary for Bangladesh to prepare itself to take this new role. To this end, a study should be commissioned to estimate the potential traffic to be handled so that actions could be taken to improve transport facilities accordingly. Based on the outcome of the study, it would be essential to arrange an extensive programme of awareness creation of the benefit of transport integration, through discussion/ consultation, dialogues, seminars, workshops and multi-media publicity.

At present 3 ministries and a large number of parastatals are involved in planning, development, operation and management of transport sector, without much coordination and adequate assessment as to whether another mode of transport could undertake a particular task more economically and with much less damage caused to the environment. In fact this uncoordinated development has given rise to some of the problems such as sectoral bias, inappropriate modal mix and unintegrated system.

There is also a serious deficiency in the current planning approach followed by different ministries and agencies. In the present top-down approach, transport policy is developed by the responsible government agency with very little or no cognisance of other stakeholders views. Broad participation of different interest groups and consumers is essential for the effectiveness of such planning which is absent in the present practice.

It is therefore being suggested that for effective coordination and development of an integrated transportation system in the country, all transport related ministries and their parastatals be brought under one broad based “Ministry of Transport”. The Cabinet Minister in charge of the Ministry could be assisted by several State Ministers, one each for Roads; Railways; Ports, Shipping and inland waterways; and Civil Aviation cum Tourism. There could be several Divisions in the Ministry one for each sub-sector of transport but coordinated by an official of the rank of Principal Secretary. Ministry of Transport should set the policies and regulations, leaving the implementation of those policies to the parastatals and the private sector.

1.   The strategic role of the transport sector in enabling sustained economic and social development to take place in a society is self-evident. An efficient distribution system becomes increasingly critical to sustained growth of economic activities.  As the income in the society increases, there is also increasing demand for access to various social services like health, sanitation and education.  Transport sector is thus called upon to provide strategic support services on an increasing scale

2.   There is a long and well-entrenched tradition of the provision of basic transport services by the government, whether at the national or local levels. The governments have traditionally looked at transport activities as being too strategically important to be left to the uncertainty of the marketplace.

3.   Although there is considerable amount of disagreements regarding the appropriate level of direct governmental provision of transport services, it is generally agreed that a well-articulated transport policy is needed for the development of transport sector, even when the private sector plays an increasing role in such development.

4.   The purpose of this policy brief is to enhance awareness among the distinguished politicians and the civil society of the need for a vision and supporting transport policy for Bangladesh and outline some of their important elements.

5.   In the subsequent chapters, an overview of the existing transport system and trends in Bangladesh, and a number of imbalances and deficiencies in the present transport development have been identified. It has been established that there is a need to have a vision for transport development together with supportive policies.

 statement of research problem

New types of problems, such as a significant growth of fuel consumption, increasing environmental externalities, traffic congestion and a multiplication of road accidents have also emerged.

All road transport modes have limited potential to achieve economies of scale. This is due to size and weight constraints imposed by governments and also by the technical and economic limits of engines

In the future new materials (ceramic, plastic, aluminum, composite materials etc…), fuels (electricity, hydrogen, natural gas, etc…) and information technologies (vehicle control, location, navigation and toll collection) are expected to be included in cars and improve the efficiency of road transport systems. Road transportation is characterized by acute geographical disparities in traffic. It is not uncommon that 20% of the road network supports 60 to 80% of the traffic. This observation is expanded by the fact that developed and developing countries have important differences in terms of the density, capacity and the quality of road transport infrastructures. Acute geographical variations of the inventory are therefore the norm.

National Transport Research Centre should focus on developing capability to undertake research not only at the centre but also at the universities and other research organizations, covering, among others, areas such as

(a) inter-modal mix based on economic, social and environmental considerations,

(b) development of integrated transport system with focus on addressing physical and non-physical barriers along various links and nodes

(c) Pricing of transport facilities based on cost recovery principle

(d) Promotion of multi-modal transport (MMT) practices and container traffic

(e) Improving urban traffic management

(f) Dealing with non-motorized transport

(g) Introducing in practice, the coordinated land use and transport planning and development concepts

(h) Promoting private sector involvement in transport infrastructure and management

(i) Improving transport facilitation measures across international borders, etc.

In order to ensure sustainability and continuity, the national experts of Bangladesh should be given more opportunities to get involved in planning, development of transport and solve their transport problems including urban transport problems. This will reflect country’s concern and commitment to be self-reliant in the long run.

There are certain weaknesses in the institutional set up of most of the sub-sectors. These have been addressed under the section “Sub-Sectoral issues in Transport.

Objectives of the road transtortation

The purpose of this policy brief is to enhance awareness among the distinguished politicians and the civil society of the need for a vision and supporting coherent transport policies, and outline some of their important elements. Development of a coherent policy requires active involvement of both the government and other stakeholders in the search for a broad consensus on how the transport needs of the society could be efficiently and equitably met.

Maximising economic and employment growthCreate opportunities for employment through infrastructure delivery and maintenanceSupport economic growth through capital investment

Increase employment within transport services as they will be operating more formalised services

 

Improving school education outcomesEnable learners to access education facilities, participate in extra-mural activities 
Maximising health outcomesEnable patients to be able to access health facilitiesEnable family and friends to visit loved ones at health facilities

Reduce the burden of disease through fewer road accidents

Improving the health and well-being of our communities through promoting non-motorised transport

 

Reducing crimeIncreased and improved law enforcement of the transport system (private, public and freight) with dedicated focus on public transport operations 
Optimising human settlement integrationProviding the necessary transport linkages – both road and rail – public and privatePromote non-motorised transport – pedestrian and cycle paths leading to more liveable towns and cities

 

Maximising sustainable resource management and usePublic transport will require energy efficient vehicles to be operated

Emissions of public transport vehicles will be monitored through contractual targets

Increase the volume of freight moved by rail as opposed to road transport

 

Increasing social cohesionAllow people to move freely within the Western Cape and within the town or city, thereby supporting integration of communitiesProviding access to sporting and cultural events and locations

 

Reducing povertyIndividuals who require government grants can access them at a reasonable cost 
Clean, value-drive, efficient, effective and response governmentAllow citizens to access government servicesAllow citizens to participate in consultation processes organized by government

 

Methodology of the road transportation management

  • Controlling and regulating road transport by executing motor vehicle acts, issuing route permits and fixing rates and fares of buses and trucks
  • Conducting regular activities like: Issuing driving license, fitness certificates, registration certificates and Driving Instructor’s license
  • Registering schools for motoring
  • Organizing and conducting workshop Seminars for delivering information regarding safe driving and traffic regulations
  • Making research and development for developing ideas and methodologies for safe road transport and traffic system

Definitions of terms used in the road transportation The provision of adequate transport infrastructure and services, along with macro-economic stability and a long term development strategy is one of the necessary conditions for sustainable economic and social development. However in the case of Bangladesh, frequent power brown-outs or black outs and long hours of traffic congestions, high level of air pollution in cities, poor traffic safety, presence of non-motorized transport on major roads, and long delays at major ports, inadequate telecommunication services, including long waiting list for telephones, unplanned

urbanization and sub-division of land around major urban centers, all bear witness to the inadequacy of existing infrastructure facilities, inefficiency in the management of services, lack of enforcement of laws and regulations, and provisions of approved Master Plans.

Partly in response to such observations and in recognition of the vital role which transport infrastructure and services play in economic and social development, government of Bangladesh has been trying its best to develop the transport system to meet the country’s present and future requirements. An analysis however, shows that although in most of the national five year plans, policies to address many of the deficiencies were clearly stated, yet during implementation, these were not adhered to. As a result transport development in Bangladesh have been driven mostly by ad hoc considerations having no explicit focus on long term requirements and the means of meeting these requirements on a competitive as well as sustainable basis. These have also produced many serious deficiencies and imbalances in the system. Some of the major deficiencies include sectoral bias, improper modal mix, unintegrated system, serious institutional weaknesses, limited role of the private sector and lack of national and urban transport policies. The current deficiencies have produced an unsustainable trend of transport development, which is characterised by misallocation of resources, adverse impacts on the environment and lack of competition.

The unguided nature of present development efforts is rooted in the absence of a vision for future development. A vision sets the direction for development and guide formulation of policy measures and strategies to attain identified objectives. Unfortunately, no long term vision for transport development exists in Bangladesh. The current road biased trends in transport development indicate the need for correct policy directions to make such development environmentally and socio-economically sustainable and to create a transport system that can meet the growing demand for transport services in the future resulting from increasing economic liberalisation and external orientation of the economy.

The purpose of this policy brief is to enhance awareness among the distinguished politicians and the civil society of the need for a vision and supporting coherent transport policies, and outline some of their important elements. Development of a coherent policy requires active involvement of both the government and other stakeholders in the search for a broad consensus on how the transport needs of the society could be efficiently and equitably met.

 The present deficiencies can however, be addressed by institutionalising an appropriate planning and development process based on certain norms. To improve overall efficiency of the transport system, each mode should be used for what it does best in an overall transport logistics chain. The Bangladeshi institutions, in general, have weak and outdated structure. Inadequate capacity and shortage of resources and trained manpower seriously undermine their ability to deliver good governance that requires sound policymaking as well as management. Institutional reform would therefore be crucial to achieving a sustainable transport system in a new environment which involves changing role of government from provider to more of a facilitator, greater external orientation of the economy, and increasing involvement of the private sector.

Literature Review

Institutional deficiency The Bangladeshi institutions which are linked to transport sector, in general, have weak and outdated structure. Their lack of capacity and shortage of resources seriously undermine their capability for good governance, sound policymaking and public management.

Different ministries and government agencies responsible for transport sector development are currently following a sectoral approach with no or very little coordination among themselves. The basic problem here is the lack of coordination among various government agencies and the absence of a clear policy framework with regard to transport sector of the country.

The Transport Policy framework

In order to achieve the vision stated above, there would be a need to develop and adopt clearly spelled and supportive policies. An attempt has been made here to provide a framework within which policies could be formulated by a team of experts.

An analysis of all the five year plans adopted since the creation of Bangladesh reveals that some form of overall transport policies were outlined in the plan documents of the country. The different plans emphasised on the adoption of appropriate pricing policy, capacity utilization, investment principle, development of rural and urban transport systems, efficient allocation of resources, improved services, fuel economy and identification of most cost-effective mode of transport. Apart from these overall policies, some detailed policy measures were enunciated for different transport sub-sectors. In principle these overall transport policies as well as policies relating to each sub-sector were well documented and appeared to be well thought out and commensurate with the requirement of the economy.

During implementation of these policies for the development of transport sector, things did not happen as expected. While it was stated in the plan documents that the investment in the transport sector would be in accordance with commercial and cost-benefit criteria, and pricing policy would be framed aiming at cost-recovery, only a few of these principles were applied in practice. It is found that fare and rate fixed for the transport services are far below the cost of providing these services. It was proposed that full capacity utilization of the existing facilities would be ensured, but in practice under utilization due to a number of reasons still exists in the different transport sub-sectors of the economy.

Limitation of the road transportation management

With regard to the clearance of containers from ChittagongPort, it may be noted that the port handles 95 percent of the total containers received in Bangladesh, and 70 to 80 percent of these are bound for Dhaka. However, only 10 to 15 percent (less than 40,000 ton equivalent units) are moved by rail to an inland container depot (ICD) in Dhaka. This ICD has a capacity of 100,000 ton equivalent units. The remaining container traffic (85-90 percent) is unpacked at Chittagong and moved in break bulk by small trucks. There is no container movement by road due to axle load limitation on bridges. The reason behind limited use of railway for moving containers is partly due to unfavourable rail charges and regulations between Chittagong and Dhaka. Since the difference is substantial, the shippers and exporters prefer to move goods by truck in break bulk to and from Chittagong port. This causes congestion due to space limitation at the port as well as on the Dhaka-Chittagong road.

Bangladesh railway should seriously explore various ways of increasing its share of carrying container traffic between Chittagong and Dhaka which is a captive traffic. For this purpose some of the actions among others, may include, acquisition of a fleet of flat cars, creation of an autonomous container corporation like CONCOR within the framework of Indian railways.

Although, Bangladesh is a riverine country and Dhaka is well connected with Chittagong by inland waterways, no container moves as yet by barges. There is a proposal to build a container terminal and ICD at Pangaon, Dhaka on the bank of Burigunga river. Some land has been acquired for the purpose on the river bank, and negotiations are underway with some private sector to build this terminal.

If Chittagong is to become the “Transport hub” of the sub-region in the hinterland of Bangladesh, the proposed container terminals at Patenga, New Mooring and the IWT container terminal at Pangaon should be built on an urgent basis to serve both the national and regional requirements. Similarly Bangladesh railway should also be prepared to carry containers destined to other states/countries in the hinterland of Bangladesh. The capacity should be built accordingly. As the traffic builds up some more inland container terminals (ICDs) would have be built around Dhaka/Narayanganj, and elsewhere within the sub-region.

In addition, a number of factors, such as rent seeking (extortion, speed money) disruption of cargo handling activities due to hartal and labour unrest have been contributing to poor performance of the port.

ROAD TRANSPORTATION IN BANGLADESH

The Spatial Impacts of Road Transportation

Road transportation is the mode that has expanded the most over the last 50 years, both for passengers and freight transportation. Such growth in road freight transport has been fuelled largely by trade liberalization as modal shares of trade between the United States and its NAFTA partners suggest. This is the result of growth of the loading capacity of vehicle and an adaptation of vehicle to freight (e.g. perishables, fuel, construction materials, etc.) or passengers (e.g. school bus) demand for speed, autonomy and flexibility. New types of problems, such as a significant growth of fuel consumption, increasing environmental externalities, traffic congestion and a multiplication of road accidents have also emerged.

All road transport modes have limited potential to achieve economies of scale. This is due to size and weight constraints imposed by governments and also by the technical and economic limits of engines. In most jurisdictions, trucks and busses have specific weight and length restrictions which are imposed for safety reasons. In addition, there are serious limits on the traction capacities of cars, buses and trucks because of the considerable increases in energy consumption that accompany increases in the vehicle weight. For these reasons the carrying capacities of individual road vehicles are limited.

Road transportation is characterized by acute geographical disparities in traffic. It is not uncommon that 20% of the road network supports 60 to 80% of the traffic. This observation is expanded by the fact that developed and developing countries have important differences in terms of the density, capacity and the quality of road transport infrastructures. Acute geographical variations of the inventory are therefore the norm.

Technological evolution of road transport vehicles was a continuous trend since the construction of the first automobiles. The basic technology is however very similar, as road transportation massively relies on the internal combustion engine. In the future new materials (ceramic, plastic, aluminum, composite materials etc…), fuels (electricity, hydrogen, natural gas, etc…) and information technologies (vehicle control, location, navigation and toll collection) are expected to be included in cars and improve the efficiency of road transport systems. There are however signs that a peak mobility can be achieved for road transportation when the car has been diffused to some optimum level and that countervailing forces are at play such as congestion, the aging of the population or a decline in income.

The urban population has increased considerably over the last 50 years and about 50% of the global population was urbanized by 2000 (about 3 billion people). It is impossible for developing countries to have a rates of individual vehicle ownership similar to those of developed countries, especially compared with the United States, not because of a lack of income, but the physical lack of space to accommodate a high level of car ownership. This will impose new or alternative methods to transport freight and passengers over roads in urban areas. The reduction of vehicle emissions and the impacts of infrastructures on the environment are mandatory to promote a sustainable environment. Under such circumstances cycling is thus to be considered an alternative to the automobile in urban areas, widely adopted in developing countries, although more for economic reasons. A symbiosis between types of roads and types of traffic with specialization (reserved lanes and hours) is to be expected.

Road transport, however, possesses significant advantages over other modes:

  • The capital cost of vehicles is relatively small. This produces several key characteristics of road transport. Low vehicle costs make it comparatively easy for new users to gain entry, which helps ensure that the trucking industry, for example, is highly competitive. Low capital costs also ensure that innovations and new technologies can diffuse quickly through the industry.
  • Another advantage of road transport is the high relative speed of vehicles, the major constraint being government-imposed speed limits.
  • One of its most important attributes is the flexibility of route choice, once a network of roads is provided. Road transport has the unique opportunity of providing door to door service for both passengers and freight.

These multiple advantages have made cars and trucks the modes of choice for a great number of trip purposes, and have led to their market dominance for short distance trips.

 Infrastructures and Investments

Road infrastructures are moderately expensive to provide, but there is a wide divergence of costs, from a gravel road to a multi-lane urban expressway. Because vehicles have the means to climb moderate slopes, physical obstacles are less important than for some other land modes, namely rail. Most roads are provided as a public good by governments, while the vast majority of vehicles are owned privately. Capital costs, therefore, are generally assumed by the society, and do not fall as heavily on one source as is the case for other modes. Unlike many transport infrastructure where the network is paid for by the user through a pricing mechanism, 95% of the financing of road infrastructure is covered by the public sector, leaving the reminder covered by tolls.

The public offering of free road infrastructure conveys several advantages to the private sector, but can also lead to serious problems. Road users thus become trapped in a situation they can do little to change since it is provided free of charge. This can be labeled as the “free roads curse”. An entity owning and operating its own network, such an a rail company in North America, has the advantage of directly implementing improvements with its own capital if congestion arise on a segment of its network. It is thus better placed to cope with congestion.

Governments can expropriate the necessary land for road construction since a private enterprise may have difficulties to expropriate without government support. For these reasons the carrying capacities of individual road vehicles are limited. Roads are thus costly infrastructures, but also sources of revenue:

  • Costs. They include rights of way, development costs (planning), construction costs, maintenance and administration costs, losses in land taxes (urban environment), expropriation costs (money and time), and external costs (accidents and pollution).
  • Revenue. They include registration, gas (taxes), purchases of vehicles (taxes), tolls, parking, and insurance fees. Another form of indirect income concerns traffic violations (e.g. speeding) that are using the pretext of public safety to hide revenue generation practices by local governments.

DEFICIENCES IN PRESENT TRANSPORT DEVELOPMENT

The transport development in Bangladesh has taken place within the context of a low level of overall national development and essentially with an inward looking policy. Until now, the development and maintenance of transport infrastructure has remained the responsibility of the public sector. In addition, public sector is the main provider of rail and air services and is also involved in providing services in road, inland water transport and shipping along with the private sector. An overview of the main features of the existing transport situation in Bangladesh, deficiencies, trends on transport development is presented in this section.

Poor quality of transport services

The transport sector in Bangladesh is characterised by weak public and private institutions, and low level of investment. It operates in a physical environment of high levels of risk, and socio-political context of extreme poverty and frequent man-made disruptions. The general quality of services at all levels and by all modes has been poor. The overcrowded buses, trains and water transports, with poor safety and security records, and unreliable service operations are quite common in Bangladesh. In freight transport, excessive cost, time, pilferage, etc., are some of the common problems. These problems are further complicated by vested interests from both within and outside the transport sector itself and the socio-political environment of the country.

Unaware of the regional role of the transport system

As indicated earlier, Bangladesh has been developing its national transport system, essentially with an inward looking strategy. In the context of the globalisation process which is currently underway, it has been observed that world wide economic dynamism has been driven to a significant extent by economic exchange on an increasing scale among economies situated in the same region/sub-region. Despite her strategic location in the sub-region comprising the countries/areas which are the close neighbours, such as Nepal, Bhutan and North-East India, Bangladesh has not been planning and developing its transport system with a regional perspective in mind.

Development trend not sustainable

There is a growing interest in sustainable development, which requires us to be more sensitive to environmental and social constraints, including indirect and long-term impacts. It emphasises intergenerational equity and long-term ecological viability. Sustainability has significant implications for transportation planning, since transport activities tend to be highly resource intensive, have numerous external costs, and frequently distribute impacts inequitably. Sustainable development focuses on improved access to facilities and to using each mode for what it does best. Improvement of access and distribution of linked production and storage activities can substantially reduce the necessity of movement and/or reduce trip length resulting in lower demand for transport infrastructure and services, less energy consumption and reduction of external costs.

Transport system not fully integrated

Integrated system development which has now become a major issue in modern sustainable transport development, has particular significance for Bangladesh with her acute resource scarcity. Thus there is an urgent need for an optimum mix of modes and minimisation of consumption of resources. However, such a mix cannot be achieved if one looks at a mode in isolation from others. Thus although rail and water transport is generally more efficient than road transport because of their higher energy efficiency and better labour productivity, this fact by itself cannot ensure greater use of these modes. In most of the cases they alone cannot provide door-to-door services. Because of their higher terminal costs they are also not suitable for short trip length or where intensity of demand is too low to justify higher capacity modes. These inherent characteristics of different modes require that to improve overall efficiency each mode should be used for what it does best in an overall transport chain.

Poor air quality due to higher vehicular emissionsAround 1000 MT of pollutants are pumped into the environment every day in Dhaka, of which 70% comes from vehicles, followed by industrial units, garbage and other biomass burning by the slum dwellers and burning of coal and wood by the large number of brick fields in and around the city.

Although the total number of vehicles in Dhaka city are not large relative to human population, there is preponderance of para-transit. The city, however, suffers from  high level of ambient air pollution due to vehicular emissions, and is one of the worst environmental problems affecting more than ten million inhabitants of Dhaka city.Motor vehicles contribute about 55% of SOx,  70% of NOx and 60% of CO of the total. The motorized vehicle population in Dhaka is dominated by three wheelers and these vehicles are mostly powered by two stroke engines which have high HC emissions as well. In addition these vehicles emit unburned gasoline as a liquid particulate that combines with water vapor to form an aerosol that provides a blue haze on the roads.

Lack of urban transport policy

Bangladesh has no urban transport policy as yet. As such there is no clear decision as to which modes of transport and facilities, the urban areas should encourage. In the past urban transport received little attention, as investment went more in infrastructure development for inter-urban linkages and for opening up links to rural growth centres. The 4th Five Year Plan of Bangladesh (1990-95) indicated that urban transport problems, will be tackled, particularly in the metropolitan areas with emphasis on landuse and water management system.

Government therefore, undertook a study “the Greater Dhaka Metropolitan Area Integrated Transport Study (DITS) (1992-94), funded by UNDP. In line with the findings of the study, World Bank formulated a project – “Dhaka Urban Transport Project”, to address in the short-term, urgent policy issues, infrastructure bottlenecks and traffic management constraints, and in the longer term, to focus on planning, institutional and policy action. Based on another recommendation of the World Bank for strengthening coordination mechanism, Greater Dhaka Transport Planning and Coordination Board (GDTPCB) was established. The Board has recently been renamed as Dhaka Transport Coordination Board. While efforts are underway to improve urban transport situation in Dhaka, similar initiatives need to be taken to address urban transport problems in other cities, and before that there is an urgent need for setting urban transport policies of Bangladesh.

Generally speaking such a policy should aim at developing an integrated, balanced and environmentally sound urban transport system in which all modes (motorized and non-motorized) can play their roles efficiently.

Addressing inappropriate modal mix

Bangladesh being a flat country of limited spatial spread (leading to short trip lengths), road transport has an apparent technical and cost advantage over the other two surface modes. The comparative advantage of road transport vis-a-vis the other competing modes has given rise to popular demand for road development in all parts of Bangladesh and at all levels. On the other hand, particularly the railways is in a technically disadvantaged position in Bangladesh mainly because of its outdated and disjointed network that was developed about a hundred years ago to serve a different spatial pattern of movement of goods and people. Inland water transport has suffered owing to reduction of length of the navigable waterways, lack of investment for modernisation, and for various other reasons.

This road bias has been further strengthened because of existing market distortions in pricing of services by different modes, which favours road transportation. The present trend in resource allocation for transport development has also a clear bias for the road sector, which is reflected in Table 2. However, this modal substitution of water and rail transport by road transport is very much questionable on economic as well as environmental grounds. Till such time all costs and externalities are fully included in cost calculations, this distortion will continue.

Special efforts should be made for the improvement of the operational efficiency of the public sector transport organizations through efficient maintenance, management and use of the available assets and enabling them to be operated on commercial principle. Pricing for transport services should be designed in such a manner that cost of providing services by each mode can be recovered in the long run and amount of subsidies in support of public service obligation (PSO) should be cut to a minimum, and adequately compensated for by the government, for avoiding colossal financial losses incurred by the transport sector.

Outward looking approach in transport development in Bangladesh

Traditionally, development of transport system has been considered basically in the national context and did not take into account seriously the cross-border issues of compatibility, uniformity of standards, infrastructure and equipment design, which are vital to cater for today’s increasing travel activities across national boundaries. Even if a system serves primarily domestic traffic, these issues cannot be ignored if Bangladesh is to remain competitive in the global context.

Integrated and sustainable development of transport system

The present deficiencies of sectoral bias, improper modal mix, unsustainable and unintegrated development can largely be addressed by institutionalising an appropriate planning and development process based on certain norms.

It is well recognised now that the transport costs facing the users do not fully reflect either the economic costs due to the provision of subsidy etc., or the environmental costs which are not reflected in the market prices.

To ensure sustainability, another issue which needs immediate attention is the adequate maintenance of the assets already developed. The transport system, in Bangladesh in general is very poorly maintained, mainly due to lack funds. According to the findings of a study on RHD roads, there is a long term maintenance needs of Tk. 500 crore per annum, as against the present availability of about Tk. 150 crore from revenue budget. One of the ways of reducing the gap would be to involve the private sector users, and go for establishment of “Road Fund”. Please see the section on “Road transport” under “Sub-sectoral Issues in Transport” for further details.

In the context of the new situation the effectiveness of national policy now requires greater articulation of efforts by all national agencies in a multilateral framework. It is essential to ensure development of a balanced, integrated, and sustainable transport system, to face the challenges of globalisation. The proposed high profile Policy Research Unit to be set up at the proposed Ministry of Transport, together with the proposed National Transport Research Centre (NTRC), and with the support of the Planning Commission would be required to ensure integrated and coordinated Planning and Development of the transport system, whether nationally, or at the urban level. (please see sub-item “Addressing Institutional weaknesses in transport sector” for further details).

Encouraging public private partnership

The desire to involve the private sector in the management and provision of infrastructure and services is prompted, firstly by the fact that the public sector practices and processes are not always conducive to efficient operations of commercial activities, and secondly in recognition of the private sector’s relative strength in this field. Again in view of the fact that investment sources outside the public sector must be tapped in the provision of such infrastructure and services, involvement of the private sector provides the opportunity to share risks and, in times of rapidly changing economic environment to respond quickly to market/demands and opportunities. Some of the potential strengths of the private sector are:

  1. A much stronger management capability due to its ability to recruit and compensate qualified managers and technicians at the market rate;
  2. Relative freedom to operate outside of political and bureaucratic constraints (e.g. in procurement and the working of overtime);
  3. Better company specific labour management;
  4. Potentially greater experience in developing facilities and providing services attuned to the competitive world of global trade; and
  5. access to non-traditional resources for investment in the infrastructure to serve trade which some individual governments may lack.

There are however a number of areas where further improvements are required to promote PPPs in Bangladesh.  These areas include:

1.   Improving the legislative and regulatory environment, including the formulation of a BOT law; the development of new sectoral laws outside of the telecommunications, electricity and gas sectors (especially in the areas of ports, roads and highways, and railways); dispute settlement and arbitration; establishment of independent regulatory authorities; and setting-up of one-stop-shops.

2.   Strengthening the capabilities of civil servants;

3.   Removing unnecessary bureaucratic procedures and practices; and

4.   Marketing the potential of Bangladesh to the international investor community.

Even if many of these improvements are made, it may still be difficult to attract the private sector into infrastructure development, especially in the transport sector, unless some special packages are offered.  One of the factors contributing to lower levels of private sector interest in transport projects is that in developing countries incomes are low and consequently, the ability of users to pay is correspondingly low.  In these cases, it is incumbent on governments to undertake detailed feasibility studies in order to ascertain realistic traffic volumes and fare levels.  Where these are insufficient to attract private sector interest, specific packages may need to be developed to make them attractive.

There are a number of public sector transport organizations namely BIWTC and BSC which are providing parallel services with private sector. These organizations are no more relevant when the government’s stated policy is to encourage private sector involvement wherever possible. In view of this, these organizations should be privatized, with a clear understanding that some of the public sector obligations (PSO), which are still considered essential could be provided by the privatized organizations with the required compensation to be paid for by the Government. Similar action could also be taken with respect to BRTC, for which appropriate and conducive environment should be created for private sector to come up with comparable services.

Addressing Transport and Environment related issues

Dhaka city is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Although the city wide average air pollution level is still below the allowable limit set by the Department of Environment, Bangladesh and WHO, the level of air pollution on the road sides of the city far exceeds the limit. The Air Quality Index (AQI) at many points of the city is found to be above 200 which is much higher than the acceptable limit of 50 for fairly clean air.

It can, therefore, be visualized easily that the consequences of such high level of pollution will be much more severe on the health of the drivers, roadside shopkeepers and vendors for whom the duration of exposure is much longer. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. Studies suggest that the mental and physical growth may be severely hampered due to breathing of polluted air.

In an economic evaluation of air pollution in Bangladesh, the World Bank estimated that nearly 15,000 deaths would be avoided annually (10,800 in Dhaka, 2,060 in Chittagong, 1,020 in Khulna, and 975 in Bogra), if the level of air pollution in Bangladesh four largest cities reduced to the WHO annual average standard.

In the light of the above facts and figures, among the various elements which contribute to environmental damage in relation to transport attempt could be made to address two elements, which could greatly improve the environmental situation in large urban areas. One of these elements will be to deal with two-stroke engines and the other to replace the use of both diesel and gasoline in vehicles by CNG (Compressed Natural Gas).

Dealing with two-stroke engines

Although two-stroke two and three wheelers emit more than ten times the amount of fine particulate matter per vehicle kilometer than a modern car, and only a little less than a light diesel truck, Bangladesh has not yet issued standards for PM emissions for two and three wheelers.

The best possible solution would be to secure the replacement of two-stroke by 4-stroke engines, despite the fact that the economic costs of this are substantial and that the four-stroke option has only recently become available for three wheelers.

If auto-rickshaws (baby-taxies) are replaced by vehicles with much higher engine capacity such as cars in the form of taxi-cabs, the ultimate goal of improving environment may not be attained. Introducing four-stroke engine in the baby taxis may bring about the desired result.

Using cleaner fuel

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a relatively clean fuel, available in abundance in Bangladesh. It may thus appear attractive to the government for both environmental and economic reasons.

The penetration of natural gas vehicles in any country thus depends primarily on its market attractiveness, which turns on a combination of the cost and convenience of the vehicle and the fuel.

As far as vehicles are concerned, there is extra cost associated with the CNG engine (or its conversion), the fuel control system and the fuel tanks. Together these increase the cost of a basic vehicle (whether a bus or a car) by up to 10-20 percent.

The convenience factor can be very important. Vehicles lose significant amounts of luggage and passenger space to fuel tanks. Until a network of filling stations is established, refueling can involve some dead running and can be time consuming. In addition, the vehicle range may be reduced by over 50 percent, doubling the refueling frequency.

            In this context, Government of Bangladesh has been implementing the following two major projects;

  1. Bangladesh-Air Quality Management Project (AQMP) financed by the World Bank; and
  2. Urban Transport and Environment Improvement Study, financed by the Asian Development Bank.

The objective of the World Bank’s Learning and Innovation Loan (LIL) project is to learn about options and develop components of urban air quality management by means of pilot activities and institutional support, with the ultimate goal of reducing human exposure to vehicular air pollution in a cost-effective manner.

The activities under this LIL focus primarily on Dhaka, with some components replicated in other cities. The project consists of two main components :

  1. Vehicle Emissions Reduction : Enforcement, Standards and Control

This component will support the role of DOE to revise vehicle, fuel and lubricant standards; carry out vehicle spot-checking for emissions compliance; and promote pilot technologies for emissions reduction in two-stroke engine and heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

Air Quality Monitoring

Air quality monitoring is an integral part of an environmental management strategy. The data collected are used in evaluating current trends in air pollution and assessing the benefits of control options. The current preliminary level of monitoring needs to be systematized and strengthened with quality control and assurance so that the data obtained can be used for developing air pollution control strategies.

The ADB study on Urban Transport and Environment, on the other hand is making an effort to identify and prioritise problem areas and to develop policies and strategies to improve air quality in Dhaka and other major cities in Bangladesh.

The principal objective of the study is to assist the Government to formulate a strategy to improve air quality in Dhaka and other major cities.

Alongside with these two major projects, some programme for effectively dealing with two-stroke vehicles, together with introduction of CNG more widely, would be essential to improve urban air quality.

For implementing above suggestions, a concerted effort with the assistance of civil societies is essential. Awareness of the issue, proactive policies, economically affordable standards and technologies, international standard monitoring and proper enforcement are the key elements in any effective air quality management

Improving urban transport and role of NMT

Bangladesh has been experiencing a rapid growth in urbalization during the last three decades. During that time the urban population in the country grew much faster than the rural population.

In the year 2000, level of urbanization was around 28%, and by 2015 it is expected to increase to about 37%. The urban population in Bangladesh which was about 23 million in 1990 is estimated to reach about 68 million by 2015.

Since further urbanization cannot be avoided, the best way would be to arrange for its effective management. With regard to existing urban areas, Bangladesh need to adopt comprehensive urban transport policies which are fully integrated with area development plans. The main objectives of the policy should cover the following:

to minimize traffic congestion, and increase speed on all major roads, by rationalizaiton of routes i.e. through identification of trunk routes for buses, feeder routes for paratransits on an area basis. Motorized and non-motorized traffic separation to reduce conflict among the vehicular modes, as well as by reducing dependence on paratransits (baby taxis, auto-tempo, cycle, rickshaws).

to increase capacity of public transport, through introduction of large size/double-decker buses, and improve services by introducing more premium quality air conditioned buses, by encouraging use of CNG buses, as well as by reducing conflicts between different types of vehicles operating on the street. To cater to the needs of urban poor, efforts may have to be made to improve access to large slum areas and/or improve public transport to peripheral locations.

to clearly define the role of non-motorized transport (NMT) in the urban transport context. To this end, it may be noted that in Dhaka city, 60% of all passenger trips are made on foot, and a further 20% by rickshaws and the remaining 20% by motorized, of which more than half by buses. Roughly 20% of the city population are employed in providing rickshaw services, and a further one and a half million people in Dhaka and in the rural areas depend on these people’s earnings. Passenger with luggage or goods cannot normally use buses and tempos, which are often crowded and therefore out of reach for women, children and the elderly people. 90% of all rickshaw trips are within 5 km range, hence for longer journeys the auto-rickshaw (baby taxi) is preferred. In view of this, it is highly important that the rickshaw drivers are brought under some discipline by giving them “drivers training” and providing them with licenses after training, so that they behave properly when on the road, and contribute to traffic safety (For further details, please see Annex I). In the case of large urban centers, possible solutions could include the following:

(a)    To restrict NMT on some main roads;

(b)   To restrict NMT on some main roads during peak hours;

(c)    To make all efforts to complete development of a network of secondary roads for NMT to ply, when their entry to main roads are restricted; and

(d)   to segregate NMT from motorized transport in other roads where they are sharing road space, but ensure proper road maintenance and enforcement.

Improving traffic safety

The road safety situation in Bangladesh is one of the worst in the world. Every day 10-12 people are killed on the road and almost double the number are injured. Road accident fatality rate of Bangladesh is 30 to 40 times higher than that of the developed nations where the number of motorized vehicles is many times more. Among the victims of road accident, majority are pedestrians. Other vulnerable road users are cyclists/motorcyclists and public transport passengers. One third of the victims are adult males between 21-35 years of age. Accidents on national roads are more severe than those on city roads. The national loss due to road accident is estimated to be about Tk. 1500 crores every year.

The main causes of road accidents are three O’s, i.e. over-speeding, overloading and overtaking, and in more than 80% cases, this way or that way drivers have a role to play. Unregulated use of same roads by non-motorized vehicles along with motorized vehicles is one of the major causes of road accidents and traffic congestion in urban areas. Most involved vehicles in the accidents are trucks, buses and minibuses.

Due to increasing demand for drivers, particularly for smaller commercial vehicles (baby taxies, tempo, etc.) and lack of strict enforcement, there are large number of fake license holders. To deal with this irregularity, there is a need to arrange training programme for the fake driving license holders in employment.

Mass-transit system for Dhaka

DhakaCity including the suburb has already got a population of over 10 million. Average growth rate of city population is about 4% per annum. City Transport like classical Buses, Air-conditioned Buses, 3-Wheelers (Baby Taxis) are grossly inadequate to meet the growth in traffic demand. Amongst the non-motorized vehicles, the cycle rickshaw still plays a major role.

A World Bank Study has indicated that there is an immediate demand of  about 5000 large buses in the city and the ‘classical’ outdated small buses and polluting 2-Stroke Engine-based 3-Wheelers should be replaced by more cost-effective, efficient and comfortable modes of transport, like taxi  cabs, additional large air-conditioned buses. This fact has been practically proven by the immediate acceptance and high occupancy factors of quality Air-conditioned Bus Services like ‘METRO’ (Tongi-Uttara-to-City Centre and other City areas) and NIRAPAD-USERIX ( a Bangladesh-Malaysian Joint Venture).

A preliminary estimate by transport experts, including transport economists indicate that the average economic loss due to routine ‘traffic jams’ in Dhaka is running into millions of dollars per annum – in terms of lost man-hours of  top-managers, mid-level managers, executives, administrative and logistic staff and skilled/semi-skilled and unskilled workers.  With an average ‘Jam period’ of about two hours a day and a movement of about 3.8 million passenger trips, the financial value of such loss amounts to about US$ 570 million per year, even if the average opportunity cost of lost time is estimated at a conservative value of about US$ 0.25. – per man-hour. On the higher side, it may exceed over a billion dollar per annum. In line with this ‘macro-economic’ consideration of the Benefit-Cost Analysis, even a  billion dollar worth of Investment in  EMRTS pays-off  within  a reasonable pay-back period, i.e. with a high EIRR on a national basis. However, since the EMRTS Project is proposed as a private-funded commercial venture, the market and financial feasibility on a commercial basis, has already been investigated. The passengers of buses and other motorized vehicles (baby taxis)  will be the most potential  users of  EMRTS, as they are presently paying anywhere between Tk. 10/- (min. for  ordinary city buses) upto Tk. 20/- for air-conditioned buses. For auto rickshaws passengers pay on the average about Tk. 30/-, Tk. 20/- – 25/- being presently their minimum charge.

To solve the large gap between demand and supply in the transport sector  in a cost-effective, as well as environmental friendly manner, a large number of Yellow Cab taxis as well as taxies belonging to other companies have recently been fielded. The response from the middle, upper middle class, including car owners is enormous. Although the average Fare is in the range of Tk. 75/- per passenger trip ( Tk. 20/- Embarkation Fare, Tk. 40/- on low side and Tk. 120/- on  the high side), these Taxis are operating with very good occupancy factors (75% avg.).

High Occupancy factors and  the growth of  serious public interest in use of ‘Yellow Cabs’ within a short span of time, indicate that a large cross-section of  Dhaka city dwellers, comprising of middle-income groups, are willing to pay, provided they get good service  – a fact, which indicates that potential of EMRTS to solve Dhaka city’s transport problem is very high, because it is provides a very fast,  cost-effective and comfortable service with minimum exposure of passengers to surface road’s highly polluted air.

Keeping in view the rapid growth of urbanization in Bangladesh, Government should work out a long term plan to develop large capacity rail based mass transit system along high-density corridors in major urban areas, with priority action in the context of Dhaka.

As indicated earlier, present transport infrastructure development is road biased. To address this situation, following actions should be taken :

  1. Considering that land is a scarce resource in the country, indiscriminate use of this resource for road development where other mode of transport could serve the purpose more economically, could lead to loss of land otherwise available for agriculture and forestry. Infrastructure development could also create drainage problem leading to environmental degradation. To avoid misuse of land, it is essential to develop a land management regime in order to regulate the physical framework in which transport infrastructure, particularly future road development/improvement can take place. Such a framework can help minimize the major adverse environmental impacts.
  2. In order to avoid wastage of scarce resources, it is essential to develop road transport, as part of one integrated logistics chain, allowing each mode to play, within the multimodal transport context, a role which it is in a better position to serve, keeping in view, economic, social and environmental costs (ie cost to overcome the externalities created).
  3. Bangladesh should urgently consider setting up a “road fund” for financing road management. Without creation of such a fund, proper maintenance of the existing network on a sustainable basis would prove to be difficult. This “Road Fund” could be set up with the support of the private sector road users who are willing to contribute a little extra, in the form of fuel levy, to be collected for the dedicated purpose of road maintenance/management. Meanwhile maintenance budgets both for RHD and rural road network should be increased and effectively utilized for maintenance and preservation of the system.
  4. Awareness creation programme should be organized to make the civil society of the country more knowledgeable about the issues indicated above, so that these could receive due attention.

ROLE OF NON-MOTORISED TRANSPORT IN URBAN AREAS

The majority of transport in most urban areas of Bangladesh is non-motorized. It accounts for over half of all vehicle trips within Dhaka city. Approximately 60% of all passenger trips within the city are made on foot, and a further 20% by cycle-rickshaw. In recent year motor vehicles accounted for only 20% of passenger movements, and more than half of these were on buses.

The majority of NMT is provided by cycle-rickshaws. There are about 300,000 rickshaws within the Dhaka City Corporation area, and 400,000 in the metropolitian area. Although officially, the government would like to phase the rickshaws out, and a ceiling had been set on rickshaw licenses (currently 79,000, plus 8,000 rickshaw van licenses. In practice, the ceiling had no impact on rickshaw numbers. But it has caused much hardship for rickshaw operators, and also deprived the City Corporation of a great deal of potential revenue. The cycle-rickshaw is widely used because it provides a service which buses and tempos (10-12 seater auto-rickshaws) cannot easily provide. It serves areas where bus services are insufficient or absent, and caters particularly to the needs of women and children, and people carrying small loads.

An overview of the Organization

The transport system of Bangladesh consists of roads, railways, inland waterways, two seaports, maritime shipping and civil aviation catering for both domestic and international traffic.

Development and maintenance of transport infrastructure in the county is essentially the responsibilities of the public sector. The public sector is involved in transport operations in road, inland water transport (IWT) and ocean shipping alongside the private sector. In the road transport and IWT sub‑sectors, the private sector is dominant. In ocean shipping, however, public sector still predominates, although the private sector has considerably increased its role in this sector in recent years. Recently private sector has also been involved in domestic air transport and railway in a very limited scale.

Bangladesh witnessed rapid growth of transport since independence. The overall annual growth rate has been nearly 8.2 per cent for freight transport and 8.4 per cent for passenger transport. Even then, the transport intensity of the Bangladesh economy is considerably lower than that of many developing countries.

 As a part of transport network development, efforts are being concentrated on development of 5-main road corridors namely: Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka-Northwsest, Dhaka-Khulna, Dhaka-Sylhet and Khulna-Northwest. Rural transport system is being developed by integrating inland water transport with existing road transport system which are linking growth centres.

Background

Traditionally, development of transport system has been considered basically in the national context and did not take into account seriously the cross-border issues of compatibility, uniformity of standards, infrastructure and equipment design, which are vital to cater for today’s increasing travel activities across national boundaries. Even if a system serves primarily domestic traffic, these issues cannot be ignored if Bangladesh is to remain competitive in the global context. Unless compatibility with neighbouring transport systems is built in as early as possible, it may become extremely costly for Bangladesh to provide inter-country transport services when situation demands. All actions and activities should be compatible with the global trend of development as well. Otherwise, efficiency of operation would be lost and economic obsolescence of transport hardware would take place much earlier than their technical obsolescence imposing higher costs of operation.

Geographically, Bangladesh is well situated in its sub-regional context. Nepal, Bhutan, North-East India and the northern part of Myanmar could be considered as its natural hinterland. The waterways and the rail network of Bangladesh were, prior to the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, integrated with the greater Indian Railway and Indian Waterway system.

The railway and waterway links between India and Bangladesh survived the partition of India, but these communication links got disrupted following the Indo-Pak war of 1965. However, river transit traffic between Kolkata and North-East India resumed in 1972 after a protocol was signed between Bangladesh and India. This protocol was revised and renewed every two years and is still in force, although the volume of inter-country traffic has reduced from roughly 100,000 tons in 1995 to about 20,000 tons in recent years while the transit traffic has remained around 10,000 tons a year, during the same period.

Similarly, agreement for rail transportation between India and Bangladesh was renewed in 1972 providing for both inter-country and transit traffic. While inter-country operation by railway has been going on, transit movement by railway did not start. There is no agreement for inter-country and transit facilities by road.

The first trade agreement between Bangladesh and India, signed in 1972, provided, for transit of goods from one point to another of the same country through the territory of the other. The trade agreement of 1980 also provides for such a facility. Finally, in 1993, the SAPTA (South Asian Preferential Trading Agreement) provided for transit facilities among the member countries of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation). Mostly due to political reasons, transit has not yet materialised.

Subsequently, in the 9th SAARC summit, held in 1997 in Male, the Member countries made a declaration for smooth transition from SAPTA to SAFTA (South Asian Free Trading Agreement). This has provided a solid background for sub-regional cooperation between the four countries/territories namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and North-East India, which is also known as South Asian Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ).

Under the UN-ESCAP initiated Asian Land Transport Infrastructure Development (ALTID) project comprising the Asian Highway (AH), the Trans-Asian Railway and facilitation of international traffic, the member countries have already taken measures to improve inter-country road and rail links among the countries in the neighbourhood of Bangladesh. Construction of Bangabandhu bridge over Jamuna has completed the much needed missing link between South Asia and South East Asia.

As indicated earlier, because of its unique geographical location, Bangladesh could play a pivotal role by providing road and rail linkage to Nepal, Bhutan, North-East India and rest of India. Ports of Chittagong and Mongla with improved management could provide the much needed maritime exit to the outside world. This is particularly significant since major part of the above mentioned sub-region is land locked. Further development in the above sub-region would require efficient access to the sea in order to become and remain competitive in the global economy. Given the limited resource potentials of the country, Bangladesh should try providing transport services to the sub-region as a “trade in services” and as a potentially important source of foreign exchange earning. Accordingly, future development strategies should include a regional role for the national transport system. Future actions concerning appropriate modal mix and integration of different modes should also reflect this regional role of the transport system.

In this context, a special effort would be required to convince the people of Bangladesh and its political leadership to agree to the sub-regional cooperation. Due to highly unbalanced trade flows between India and Bangladesh, the people have the impression that integration would mean, facilitation of Indian trade only, at the cost of great damage to the transport infrastructure of Bangladesh.

Corporate Information

Roads and Railways Division governs the following Departments/Organizations:

  • Roads and Highways Department (RHD)
  • Bangladesh Railways (BR)
  • Bangladesh Road Transport Authority ( BRTA)
  • Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC)
  • Office of the Government Inspector of the Bangladesh Railways (GIBR) and
  • Dhaka Transport Co-ordination Board (DTCB)

Roads and Highways Department (RHD): Responsible for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges on the main road network of the country.

Bangladesh Railways (BR): Responsible for all aspects of railway development, operation and maintenance in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA): Responsible for road transport issues on all roads of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC): Responsible for operation of fleet of buses and trucks, particularly on routes of social importance.

Office of the Government Inspector of the Bangladesh Railways (GIBR): Responsible for inspections for Bangladesh Railway.

Dhaka Transport Co-ordination Board (DTCB): Responsible for coordination of the planning and implementation of transport schemes in DhakaCity and its environs.

BRTC, the sole State Owned Enterprise (SOE) in road transport sector, needs to be infused with skill, fair sense of discipline and dynamism for its efficient management to play stronger and more strategic role.

Planning and coordination of transport infrastructure facilities and traffic management interventions across greater Dhaka are the core responsibilities of Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB). The Government through DTCB has launched Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for safer and more efficient Transportation System.

Organization Structure

Roads and Highways

The total paved road length under Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has expanded from a mere 600 km in 1947 to around 4,265 km in 1973 and to around 21,000 km in 2001.

Another 1,83,354 km of road existed under LGED, as of December 1998, which link rural growth centres with the arterial routes. Most of the heavy vehicles in Bangladesh are of 2-axle configuration, with two wheeled front axle and 4-wheeled rear axle. The axle load limit is 18,000 lbs or 8.2 tonnes, compared to 10.2 tonnes in India.

BangabandhuBridge

Construction of the BangabandhuBridge has been completed in June, 1998. For the implementation of the bridge project , an organisation named Jamuna Multi-Purpose Bridge Authority (JMBA) was established. Subsequently, a separate Division, titled Jamuna Bridge Division ( JBD), was created under the Ministry of Communication for monitoring, supervision and quickening the decision‑making process in respect of different activities and problems of this giant project. A brief description of the bridge, is given below :

  •  The bridge is a 4.8 km long and 18.5 meter wide, 4 lane multipurpose bridge; it is a road bridge with provisions to carry a power inter‑connector, gas pipeline and telecommunication links. The foundation/ sub‑structure of the bridge has been strengthened so as to carry a dual gauge rail line (both meter and broad gauge).
  •  Construction of the bridge started in October, 1994 and it was opened to traffic in June‑1998. The project was financed jointly by IDA, ADB and the Government of Japan each with a share of US $ 200 million . The final cost of the project including the resettlement component was Tk. 36,036.90 million.

Asian Highway (AH) routes in Bangladesh

  1. According to the new criteria, the following routes (1695 km) of Bangladesh have been included in the Asian Highway network.
  2. Benapole -Jessore – Narail -Bhanga – Mawa – Dhaka – Katchpur -Comilla -Chittagong -Cox’s Bazar (561.50 km)
  3. Banglabandh -Rangpur-Hatikamrul – (Bangabandhu Bridge) -Tangail – Dhaka – Katchpur – Sarail – Sylhet – Tamabil (829.70 km)
  4. Route A-1(b):  Hatikamrul – Bonpara – Jessore – Mongla port (304 km)

Out of this mileage, 92% are 2-lane highway of AH class II standard, and 3.7% are single lane which are below AH standard. Out of another 81 km missing or gravel road, construction of 51 km (Hatikamrul – Bonpara) and 30 km (Bhanga-Narail) is now on-going.

Bangladesh Railway (BR)

To the west of Jamuna it is predominantly BG with a small MG network in the north-west. To the east of Jamuna it was all MG. The BG portion was a part of the main Indian Railway network oriented towards Calcutta and the MG portion was mainly a part of the network connecting northeastern Indian states with Chittagong port.

The network is physically divided by the river Jamuna. Ferry services operate at two locations. BR has a total route kilometer of 2734, of which 901 km is Broad Gauge (BG) and 1833 km is Meter Gauge (MG). The BR is at present catering to passenger and freight services at 489 stations spread over the entire country. Provision has now been made for BG and MG on Bangabandhu bridge.

Bangladesh Railway has also introduced computerized wagon control system (RAILWICS) in 1999-2000. UNESCAP assisted programme, can now be used for tracking and monitoring movement and status of all rolling stock, containers and cargo. System can be integrated for international tracking. The system is now fully operated by BR.

BR’s position in the context of TAR

A study undertaken by UN-ESCAP has adequately established the potential role that Bangladesh Railway could play in serving efficiently the transportation needs of Nepal, Bhutan, and North-East India. BR is agreeable to provide transit facilities,  provided India agrees to allow Nepal traffic along short-cut rail route from Raxaul to Mongla/Chittagong passing through Singabad/Rohanpur. Railway being an environmentally sound and energy efficient as well as cost-effective on longer distances, it could have a promising role in the inter-country transport, in the near future, when political situation becomes favourable to allow transit traffic.

Inland Water Transport

Bangladesh is a Maritime country with vast network of inland waterways. Out of nearly 24,000 km of rivers, streams and canals in Bangladesh, only about 5,970 km is navigable by mechanized vessels during monsoon period, which shrinks to about 3,970 km during dry period. Approximately, 90% of IWT services are provided by private sector.

The IWT sector carries over 50% of all arterial freight traffic and one quarter of all passenger traffic. River instability coupled with rapid deterioration of the river system through massive siltation causes serious problems to navigation and also to the management, operation and development of IWT system.

Urban Transport System The urban transport system focuses on mobility and access within the main cities and towns. The main strategic issue related to urban transport is the efficiency of intra-urban transport in the main urban centres. Rapid urban growth and its contribution to the national economy need to be carefully addressed. Transport’s role in the urban economy and growth of this sector has been phenomenal (e.g. individual mobility and new employment opportunities in the transport service sector).

 Number of  transportation usages

Due to its comparative advantages in terms of speed, flexibility, and accessibility, road transport has emerged as the most popular mode of transportation in Bangladesh. Reflecting popular demand for road transport and increased realization of the significance of road transport for rural development and poverty alleviation, road development has continued to receive major attention of all successive governments since liberation in 1971. As a result, road transportation has become the principal mode of transportation for both goods and passenger traffic.

Transport output and modal shares

Sl No.Year                 Passenger                   Freight
TotalPkms

(billion)

Share (%)TotalTkms

(billion)

Share (%)
RoadIWTRailRoadIWTRail
174/75175416302.6353728
284/85356416204.8483517
388/89576815176.3593011
492/93667513129.061327
599/2000*9569201114.574206
62004/2005*12169191220.374197
72009/2010*15569191228.474197

* projected

Source: Planning Commission (1994)

Public sector allocations to different modes of transportation over the successive plan periods in Bangladesh are shown in Table 4. It shows that the share of road sector has gradually increased from less than 30 per cent during the First Five Year Plan period (1973-78) to more than 66 percent during the Fourth Five Year Plan (1990-95). Its share in the current Fifth Five Year Plan (1997-2002) is about 60 per cent. It is important to mention here that these calculations did not include special allocations for BangabandhuBridge. If this is considered, share of road sector exceeds 80 per cent of total allocation to transport sector. Obviously, greater allocation for road sector resulted in cuts in shares of the other modes. Water transportation suffered the most followed by air and rail transport. During the same period, the share of water transport decreased from about 24 per cent in 1973-78 to a mere 12 per cent during the current plan period.

Share of allocation to different modes in the past plans*

ModePer cent of sector allocation in past plans
1973-78 1978-801980-851985-901990-951995-971997-02
Road28.36 37.5131.8042.3066.4274.4658.68
Rail23.91 27.3532.1429.8317.0616.0821.82
Water35.30 24.4124.6320.3813.075.3212.53
Air12.44 10.7311.447.493.454.146.96
Total100.00100.00100.00100.00100.00100.00100.00
Total allocation for all modes (m taka)5276.1450012864.6280235217024799.8107705.5
Sector allocation as % of total public sector outlay11.6513.7911.5912.0116.5018.81

* Excludes allocation for BangabandhuBridge

Source: Computed from data given in the Fifth Five Year Plan (Planning Commission, 1997)

Number of Service holders

Based on 1991/92 DUTS data, and extrapolations made for the year 2000, indicate that about 3,856,560 passengers travel in Dhaka city on a daily basis, using various modes of motorized and non-motorized transports, i.e. rickshaws, auto-rickshaws/’tempos’, buses and private Cars.  Even with latest additions of about 60 air-conditioned city bus services, the current total number of Buses is only about 1,600. This means that over the past decades, there has not been any substantial growth in number of buses. Break down of the above figure on passenger travel indicates that about 214,000 passengers travel by auto-rickshaws and tempos, 1,471,501 travel by buses (mini, large, double decker and air-conditioned) and 71,883 passengers use private cars

Vision Statement

To ensure improvement of socio-economic condition of the people through development, expansion and maintenance of integrated roads and railway transportation.

In line with the above analysis, the vision for transport development in Bangladesh could be as follows:

“Development of an integrated, efficient and affordable multimodal transport system which is sustainable from social, economic and environmental points of view. Natural advantage of each mode of transport to be fully harnessed, and public goods concept of transport services to be gradually moved away from and pricing to be based on principle of cost-recovery.

Rural transport development to continue receiving priority with emphasis on providing uninterrupted black-top road links to all important growth-centres. Urban transport system in all major urban areas to be made efficient, environmentally sound and congestion free by restricting movement of slow moving vehicles on major roads.

To reap the benefit of globalization process, transport system of the country to be fully integrated with sub-regional and regional transport network and its port capacity modernized expanded and made efficient so that Bangladesh could become the “transport hub” to serve the entire hinterland comprising, Nepal, Bhutan, NE-India and Northern Myanmar”.

Mission Statement

  • Formulation of policies regarding roads, road transports and railways.
  • Development, improvement and maintenance of national highways, regional highways, district roads and other important roads, including bridges and culverts.
  • Matters relating to (a) Roads and Highways Department (RHD), (b) BRTC, (c) BRTA, (d) Bangladesh Railway, (e) Office of the Government Inspector of Bangladesh Railway and (f) Dhaka Transport Co-ordination Board.
  • Transport Co-ordination.
  • Monitor Survey in the field of road transport, compulsory insurance of motor vehicles and mechanically propelled vehicles.
  • Promotion of transport cooperation and institutions for development and management of road transport.
  • Administration of B.C.S. (Roads and Highways), B.C.S. (Railway Engineering) and B.C.S. (Railway Transportation and Commercial) cadres.
  • Constitution and reconstitution of BRA.
  • Matters relating to development and investment programmes and revenue budget of Bangladesh Railway.
  • Determination and enforcement of safety standards.
  • Secretariat administration including financial matters.
  • Administration and control of subordinate offices and organizations under this Division.
  • Liaison with International Organizations and matters relating to treaties and agreements with other countries and world bodies relating to subjects allotted to this Division.
  • All laws on subjects allotted to this Division.
  • Inquiries and Statistics on any of the subjects allotted to this Division.
  • Fees and tolls in respect of any of the subjects allotted to this Division except fees taken in courts.

Road Transtreotation services scheme

To assist the Ministry of Transport in setting coordinated policies and ensure integrated development of the transport system, there should be high profile Policy Research Unit (PRU) headed by a professional of high standing, directly reporting to the Principal Secretary of the Ministry (whose major responsibilities would be coordination and research). The Policy Research Unit should be manned by a group of competent professionals of high calibre, funded by development partners, if necessary. The salary and other remuneration of these professionals should be outside the public sector purview, as in the case of navigational Captains of Bangladesh Biman and Bangladesh Shipping Corporation.

Bangladesh also needs independent in-house transport research and analytical capability. It is therefore recommended that an autonomous National Transport Research Centre (NTRC) be established. It could be manned by both full time and sizeable part-time professionals of high quality who are available within the country but currently working with various universities and in the private sector. The set up of NTRC should be autonomous, similar to technical universities such as BUET.

National Transport Research Centre should focus on developing capability to undertake research not only at the centre but also at the universities and other research organizations, covering, among others, areas such as (a) inter-modal mix based on economic, social and environmental considerations, (b) development of integrated transport system with focus on addressing physical and non-physical barriers along various links and nodes (c) Pricing of transport facilities based on cost recovery principle (d) Promotion of multi-modal transport (MMT) practices and container traffic (e) Improving urban traffic management (f) Dealing with non-motorized transport (g) Introducing in practice, the coordinated land use and transport planning and development concepts (h) Promoting private sector involvement in transport infrastructure and management (i) Improving transport facilitation measures across international borders, etc.

In the past, the Planning Commission used to decide the allocation of resources among different competing modes, based on in depth analysis of the most appropriate role that each mode could play from economic, social and environmental points of view. Since it is now manned by cadre service officials, it lacks in professional and technical capacity in undertaking intermodal comparative study from economic point of view. The Planning Commission, the Transport Ministry and other government agencies could use research findings of NTRC in allocation of resources for the development of different modes, and in setting appropriate policies to further improve the transport situation.

Effectiveness of any Ministry or agency depends on the quality of human resources who are manning those organisations. To enhance the efficiency, in-service professional and management training needs to be organized in a dedicated manner for those who are in position, and separate training programmes for new comers.

In order to ensure sustainability and continuity, the national experts of Bangladesh should be given more opportunities to get involved in planning, development of transport and solve their transport problems including urban transport problems. This will reflect country’s concern and commitment to be self-reliant in the long run.

There are certain weaknesses in the institutional set up of most of the sub-sectors. These have been addressed under the section “Sub-Sectoral issues in Transport.

Principal Activities Of Road Transportation The desire to involve the private sector in the management and provision of infrastructure and services is prompted, firstly by the fact that the public sector practices and processes are not always conducive to efficient operations of commercial activities, and secondly in recognition of the private sector’s relative strength in this field. Again in view of the fact that investment sources outside the public sector must be tapped in the provision of such infrastructure and services, involvement of the private sector provides the opportunity to share risks and, in times of rapidly changing economic environment to respond quickly to market/demands and opportunities. Some of the potential strengths of the private sector are:

  • A much stronger management capability due to its ability to recruit and compensate qualified managers and technicians at the market rate;
  • Relative freedom to operate outside of political and bureaucratic constraints (e.g. in procurement and the working of overtime);
  • Better company specific labour management;
  • Potentially greater experience in developing facilities and providing services attuned to the competitive world of global trade; and
  • access to non-traditional resources for investment in the infrastructure to serve trade which some individual governments may lack.

These attributes of the private sector enable it to respond rapidly to market changes through speedy decision making and investment. But in the context of Bangladesh, it should be noted that the private sector are still in a growing stage, and will take sometime to mature. Thus, they need considerable support from the public sector, for quite sometime, to enhance their capabilities to be at par with other private sectors internationally.

With the changing focus of transport policy and the adoption of the general policy of increased private sector involvement in economic development, a substantial change in the role of government is required. Government’s functions as a provider should reduce while its functions as a facilitating regulator should increase..

It is noted that Bangladesh is making considerable progress in the direction of facilitating greater private sector participation in infrastructure development.  In the present state of development, involvement of the private sector through partnership projects with the public sector (Public Private Partnership or PPP) appears to have a better promise than other options. There are however a number of areas where further improvements are required to promote PPPs in Bangladesh.  These areas include:

1.   Improving the legislative and regulatory environment, including the formulation of a BOT law; the development of new sectoral laws outside of the telecommunications, electricity and gas sectors (especially in the areas of ports, roads and highways, and railways); dispute settlement and arbitration; establishment of independent regulatory authorities; and setting-up of one-stop-shops.

2.   Strengthening the capabilities of civil servants;

3.   Removing unnecessary bureaucratic procedures and practices; and

4.   Marketing the potential of Bangladesh to the international investor community.

SWOT Analysis of Road Transprotation

In the context of accident data recording, Bangladesh has already adopted a standardized computerised accident report form, which has become a part of police FIR (first information report), and completed by police immediately after reaching the accident site. A large number of police Sub-Inspectors have been trained to undertaking this accident recording task, and these officials are now manning the different police stations across the country. Accident data are initially being compiled at Police Range Office (DIG, Police) level and then transferred via computer diskettes to accident data units at Dhaka Metropolitan Police HQ, the Police HQ (IG. Police) and at the Road Safety Cell at BRTA where data are analysed using Micro-computer Accident Analysis Package (MAAP) programme already installed.

Although fines are specified in current MVO, the deterrence has been ineffective since the current level of fines are too low. To address the situation, a new “Road Transport and Traffic Act” has already been drafted and being further examined. The new legislation should, however, be introduced at the earliest together with appropriate levels of fines for violation of rules, a penalty point system, and driving license disqualifications system. Meanwhile the displaying of tax token on the windshield has been introduced.

Traffic Enforcement is an area where considerable improvement is needed. Traffic police is responsible for enforcement in metropolitan areas. While they are hard working, they can not be effective, as they are ill-equipped. However, the number of sergeants and motor cycles have been increased recently in Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), and Traffic Management training courses expanded at DMPTrainingAcademy. Lack of off-street parking, and lack of enforcement on illegal parking near road junctions, and the present freedon of parking on the street is creating lot of traffic congestion on the street  and at road junctions. Traffic violators are also not being taken to task. As a result traffic irregularities are on the increase.

Outside the urban areas, traffic enforcement by police is extremely restricted by a lack of mobility. Little progress can be achieved in terms of safer driving until the Police are able to regularly patrol the roads, both in urban and inter-urban areas. The traffic police budget constraints lower both enforcement effectiveness and morale. To address this issue, government may wish to allocate 10%  of the traffic fines, to traffic police to enhance their resource capability. This would also encourage the traffic police to be more strict in enforcing traffic rules and reducing traffic violations.

Some of the violations, particularly those related to road transport related laws, are not being strictly dealt with by traffic police, as their priorities are different. To address this problem, BRTA could be allowed to have some in-house capacity to enforce road transport related laws, without depending on police.

In added, to improve the overall quality of drivers, serious consideration should be given to use the existing drivers training institutions under the Ministry of Defence. Considering the seriousness of the overall disastrous condition of traffic management in urban areas, and deteriorating traffic safety, Bangladesh Government should make a special effort through the Ministry of Defence to allow its driving schools in all cantonments to deliver crash programmes for training of drivers and orientation course for drivers who are already in employment. This programme could be run initially for a period of two years.

For road worthiness of vehicles, Bangladesh laws require vehicles to be tested annually, if older than 5 years. Modern vehicle Inspection centres are being set up in 4 Divisions (2 centres in Dhaka) with financial support from ADB. Installation is complete and testing is going on. Bangladesh is however in the process of setting its own standards for inspection. Once it is finalized, strict enforcement of the vehicle fitness standard would be crucial to improve the overall vehicle condition on the street.

Vehicle inspectors receive only on-the-job training and current vehicle inspections are restricted to a brief visual inspection. While both BRTA and the Traffic Police occasionally conduct roadside inspections, these actions are rarely targeted at specific safety violations and are restricted to daylight hours.

Road safety education is an important aspect to be considered, which includes what to do and what not to do while traveling by a vehicle, riding a motorcycle, walking on walkway or crossing a road. In Bangladesh, road safety education, has recently been introduced into the National curriculum, but is covered in only 3-lessons in all primary and secondary school education. But lessons are not relevant to vast majority of the children.

Identification of strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of the organization Strengths:

In the provision of such infrastructure and services, involvement of the private sector provides the opportunity to share risks and, in times of rapidly changing economic environment to respond quickly to market/demands and opportunities. Some of the potential strengths of the private sector are:

  1. A much stronger management capability due to its ability to recruit and compensate qualified managers and technicians at the market rate;
  2. Relative freedom to operate outside of political and bureaucratic constraints (e.g. in procurement and the working of overtime);
  3. Better company specific labour management;
  4. Potentially greater experience in developing facilities and providing services attuned to the competitive world of global trade; and
  5. access to non-traditional resources for investment in the infrastructure to serve trade which some individual governments may lack.

Addressing Institutional weaknesses in transport sector

Institutional reform to create new institutions and/or revitalise the existing ones would be crucial to achieving the sustainable transport system of the future. Revitalisation of the existing institutions should focus on capacity building, allocation of resources, access to new technology especially related to IT, etc.

There is also a serious deficiency in the current planning approach followed by different ministries and agencies. In the present top-down approach, transport policy is developed by the responsible government agency with very little or no cognisance of other stakeholders views. Broad participation of different interest groups and consumers is essential for the effectiveness of such planning which is absent in the present practice.

It is therefore being suggested that for effective coordination and development of an integrated transportation system in the country, all transport related ministries and their parastatals be brought under one broad based “Ministry of Transport”. The Cabinet Minister in charge of the Ministry could be assisted by several State Ministers, one each for Roads; Railways; Ports, Shipping and inland waterways; and Civil Aviation cum Tourism. There could be several Divisions in the Ministry one for each sub-sector of transport but coordinated by an official of the rank of Principal Secretary. Ministry of Transport should set the policies and regulations, leaving the implementation of those policies to the parastatals and the private sector.In setting policies and in allocation of resources, adequate care should be taken to emphasise the importance of maintenance and rehabilitation rather than construction of new infrastructure, while new investment is being contemplated for the transport sector.

More and more authorities should be delegated to the agencies/parastatals so that they could function as autonomous bodies.

To assist the Ministry of Transport in setting coordinated policies and ensure integrated development of the transport system, there should be high profile Policy Research Unit (PRU) headed by a professional of high standing, directly reporting to the Principal Secretary of the Ministry (whose major responsibilities would be coordination and research). The Policy Research Unit should be manned by a group of competent professionals of high calibre, funded by development partners, if necessary. The salary and other remuneration of these professionals should be outside the public sector purview, as in the case of navigational Captains of Bangladesh Biman and Bangladesh Shipping Corporation.

Bangladesh also needs independent in-house transport research and analytical capability. It is therefore recommended that an autonomous National Transport Research Centre (NTRC) be established. It could be manned by both full time and sizeable part-time professionals of high quality who are available within the country but currently working with various universities and in the private sector. The set up of NTRC should be autonomous, similar to technical universities such as BUET.

National Transport Research Centre should focus on developing capability to undertake research not only at the centre but also at the universities and other research organizations, covering, among others, areas such as (a) inter-modal mix based on economic, social and environmental considerations, (b) development of integrated transport system with focus on addressing physical and non-physical barriers along various links and nodes (c) Pricing of transport facilities based on cost recovery principle (d) Promotion of multi-modal transport (MMT) practices and container traffic (e) Improving urban traffic management (f) Dealing with non-motorized transport (g) Introducing in practice, the coordinated land use and transport planning and development concepts (h) Promoting private sector involvement in transport infrastructure and management (i) Improving transport facilitation measures across international borders, etc.

Opportunities:

In the past, the Planning Commission used to decide the allocation of resources among different competing modes, based on in depth analysis of the most appropriate role that each mode could play from economic, social and environmental points of view. Since it is now manned by cadre service officials, it lacks in professional and technical capacity in undertaking intermodal comparative study from economic point of view. The Planning Commission, the Transport Ministry and other government agencies could use research findings of NTRC in allocation of resources for the development of different modes, and in setting appropriate policies to further improve the transport situation.

Effectiveness of any Ministry or agency depends on the quality of human resources who are manning those organisations. To enhance the efficiency, in-service professional and management training needs to be organized in a dedicated manner for those who are in position, and separate training programmes for new comers.

In order to ensure sustainability and continuity, the national experts of Bangladesh should be given more opportunities to get involved in planning, development of transport and solve their transport problems including urban transport problems. This will reflect country’s concern and commitment to be self-reliant in the long run.

There are certain weaknesses in the institutional set up of most of the sub-sectors. These have been addressed under the section “Sub-Sectoral issues in Transport.

Threats:

Dhaka city is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Although the city wide average air pollution level is still below the allowable limit set by the Department of Environment, Bangladesh and WHO, the level of air pollution on the road sides of the city far exceeds the limit. The Air Quality Index (AQI) at many points of the city is found to be above 200 which is much higher than the acceptable limit of 50 for fairly clean air.

It can, therefore, be visualized easily that the consequences of such high level of pollution will be much more severe on the health of the drivers, roadside shopkeepers and vendors for whom the duration of exposure is much longer. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. Studies suggest that the mental and physical growth may be severely hampered due to breathing of polluted air.

In an economic evaluation of air pollution in Bangladesh, the World Bank estimated that nearly 15,000 deaths would be avoided annually (10,800 in Dhaka, 2,060 in Chittagong, 1,020 in Khulna, and 975 in Bogra), if the level of air pollution in Bangladesh four largest cities reduced to the WHO annual average standard.

As indicated earlier, transportation is one of the most significant sources of air pollution in the urban areas. It is observed that the level of emission of pollutants from all types of motor vehicles in Bangladesh are significantly higher than similar vehicles in other countries.

In Bangladesh pollution severity occurs due to the high content of lead in gasoline, large number of high polluting vehicles, impure fuel, inefficient landuse planning, and overall poor traffic management. Major issues are the heterogeneous flows of traffic and two stroke engines moving in urban streets which emit greater proportion of black smoke. Another dominating factor of urban traffic pollution is the number of auto-rickshaw and auto-tempo. This increase is most remarkable in Dhaka where the proportion of such two-stroke vehicles in the total vehicle population rose from 2.3% in 1982-83, 18% in 1990-91 and as high as 23% in 1996-97. It is not out of subject to mention here that the two-stroke engines (auto-rickshaw) moving in DhakaCity are simple modified forms of an Italian model of 1960’s. These two stroke engine vehicles have technology disadvantages of inefficient combustion and results high tailpipe emissions. It is estimated that a baby-taxi emit several folds more pollution than a normal car.

Action Plan

The main causes of road accidents are three O’s, i.e. over-speeding, overloading and overtaking, and in more than 80% cases, this way or that way drivers have a role to play. Unregulated use of same roads by non-motorized vehicles along with motorized vehicles is one of the major causes of road accidents and traffic congestion in urban areas. Most involved vehicles in the accidents are trucks, buses and minibuses.

To address the traffic safety issue, and to provide guidelines and drive road safety initiative forward, Bangladesh established in 1993s a National Road Safety Council (NRSC) headed by the Hon’ble Minister for Communication. As a first step the Road Safety Strategic Action Plan covering a two-year period was drawn up by the NRSC in July 1997. In the plan, road safety activities have been earmarked into nine individual road safety sectors. These include besides establishing NRSC, the accident data system, Road engineering, Traffic legislation, Traffic laws enforcement, Driver training and testing, vehicle safety, Road safety education and publicity as well as medical services. Due to various reasons, the Action plan could be implemented fully.

To develop and implement road safety programs at the local levels, as a line agency of the NRSC, District/Metropolitan Road Safety Committees headed by the respective Deputy Commissioners and Police Commissioners have been established. To provide secretarial and technical support to the NRSC and to coordinate the road safety activities of different organizations very recently a Road Safety Cell has been established in BRTA. The Cell would be able to monitor implementation of the Road Safety Action Plan.

In the context of accident data recording, Bangladesh has already adopted a standardized computerised accident report form, which has become a part of police FIR (first information report), and completed by police immediately after reaching the accident site. A large number of police Sub-Inspectors have been trained to undertaking this accident recording task, and these officials are now manning the different police stations across the country. Accident data are initially being compiled at Police Range Office (DIG, Police) level and then transferred via computer diskettes to accident data units at Dhaka Metropolitan Police HQ, the Police HQ (IG. Police) and at the Road Safety Cell at BRTA where data are analysed using Micro-computer Accident Analysis Package (MAAP) programme already installed.

In the context of road engineering, Road and Highways Department (RHD) has already compiled a list of black spots and low cost remedial measures are being introduced to address the situation. In addition formal road safety audits are being made compulsory for every new road. Road signs and signals manual already prepared and colored copies being produced for wider distribution.

Practical Experiences

For road worthiness of vehicles, Bangladesh laws require vehicles to be tested annually, if older than 5 years. Modern vehicle Inspection centres are being set up in 4 Divisions (2 centres in Dhaka) with financial support from ADB. Installation is complete and testing is going on. Bangladesh is however in the process of setting its own standards for inspection. Once it is finalized, strict enforcement of the vehicle fitness standard would be crucial to improve the overall vehicle condition on the street.

Vehicle inspectors receive only on-the-job training and current vehicle inspections are restricted to a brief visual inspection. While both BRTA and the Traffic Police occasionally conduct roadside inspections, these actions are rarely targeted at specific safety violations and are restricted to daylight hours.

Bangladesh has a wide mix of vehicles with the vast majority being non-motorized. Most rickshaw drivers are migrants from rural areas, as such have no knowledge of traffic rules and regulations of the urban areas. To ensure a higher level of traffic safety, there is a need to provide training to the rickshaw drivers as well. These drivers after training should receive a drivers license duly recognized by police and city corporation, so that they could also qualify for having life insurance at nominal cost.

Road safety education is an important aspect to be considered, which includes what to do and what not to do while traveling by a vehicle, riding a motorcycle, walking on walkway or crossing a road. In Bangladesh, road safety education, has recently been introduced into the National curriculum, but is covered in only 3-lessons in all primary and secondary school education. But lessons are not relevant to vast majority of the children. To address the problem, all schools in Bangladesh need to teach road safety to their students in an effective and appropriate way for which proper materials need to be produced. Teachers’ training programmes should also include lectures on road traffic safety. Publicity, campaigns involving the community as a whole, need to be organized based on accident data analysis and target a road user group or behaviour that can be influenced. NRSC should undertake the above task. More and more NGOs, should be encouraged to take interest in road safety matters.

Finding and analysis of objectives

  • Responsible for overall management, control and supervision of road transports.
  • To help Government in framing motor vehicles laws, rules, regulations, policies, etc and implementation of this laws and ensure enforcement against violation.
  • To deal with safety of road users and taking of remedial measures for prevention of road accidents.
  • Registration of motor vehicles, motor repairing workshops and school of motoring.
  • To issue license after conducting competency test for drivers, conductors & driving instructors and to take measures for renewal of the same.
  • To issue and renew roadworthiness certificate of motor vehicles.
  • To find out the cause of accidents, inspecting the vehicles involve with accident.
  • To issue and renew route permit for passenger & goods vehicles.
  • To inspect the Govt. vehicles for repairing, maintenance and condemnation declaration and to advice Govt. departments in this regard.
  • Collection and accounting of taxes and fees on account of motor vehicles.
  • To collect & maintain the statistics related to motor vehicles, and road accidents, to conduct activities for the development of road transport system, implementation of development schemes etc.

To constitute and control of Regional Transport Committee (RTC) for every district and metropolitan area, coordination between agencies, organizations providing transport services and deals with the matters relating to road transport owners and workers to suggest appropriate measures therefore.

CONCLUSIONS

Bangladesh must have an efficient and sustainable transport system to ensure continued economic development and wellbeing of the people. However, the present trend of development appears to be more ad-hoc having no explicit focus on future requirements and the means of meeting these directions on a competitive as well as sustainable basis. The need to address the deficiencies with appropriate policies, strategies and actions as indicated in chapter V are of paramount importance in the context of new environment of increased globalisation, regionalisation and privatisation.

To face the challenges of competitiveness and sustainability, Bangladesh must have a vision for future transport development with supporting broad policies, strategies and actions, which are to be pursued by the transport agencies of the country. In this context, institutional development is an issue of major importance. The government has now adopted the general policy of private sector led development. In this context, an appropriate institutional and legal framework consistent with the changing economic environment is yet to be put in place. The existing institutions should be made ready to assume their redefined roles in the new environment.

There is also a great need to change the current approach to planning. The planning agencies, be central, sectoral, or local must look for a new methodology to implement an integrated and comprehensive approach that would ensure direct involvement of all stakeholders in dealing with the multi-dimensional issues of transport development in Bangladesh.

Concerning the potential role of Bangladesh transport system to cater to the sub-regional/international needs, political commitment would be of paramount importance. Physical integration of the system would actually involve a reintegration of existing infrastructure requiring minimum economic resources, except for capacity expansion in certain stretches and management improvement for higher level of efficiency. It is essential to undertake a study to come up with concrete estimate of potential benefit for all countries of SAGQ to set a process of awareness creation through consultations, dialogues and media activities. The awareness of the civil society for increased sub-regional cooperation on an equal footing, could in turn persuade the political leadership to come forward with their blessing, which is of crucial importance.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The provision of adequate transport infrastructure and services, along with macro-economic stability and a long term development strategy is one of the necessary conditions for sustainable economic and social development. However in the case of Bangladesh, frequent power brown-outs or black outs and long hours of traffic congestions, high level of air pollution in cities, poor traffic safety, presence of non-motorized transport on major roads, and long delays at major ports, inadequate telecommunication services, including long waiting list for telephones, unplanned urbanization and sub-division of land around major urban centers, all bear witness to the inadequacy of existing infrastructure facilities, inefficiency in the management of services, lack of enforcement of laws and regulations, and provisions of approved Master Plans.

Partly in response to such observations and in recognition of the vital role which transport infrastructure and services play in economic and social development, government of Bangladesh has been trying its best to develop the transport system to meet the country’s present and future requirements. An analysis however, shows that although in most of the national five year plans, policies to address many of the deficiencies were clearly stated, yet during implementation, these were not adhered to.

The unguided nature of present development efforts is rooted in the absence of a vision for future development. A vision sets the direction for development and guide formulation of policy measures and strategies to attain identified objectives. Unfortunately, no long term vision for transport development exists in Bangladesh.

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