People reaching out to stop fast vehicles, buses randomly stopping to pick up passengers, cars passing pedestrians crossing the road – this is the chaotic scenario at the level crossing in front of Brac University in Mohakhali, in the capital.
But it shouldn’t be. Last year, after spending Tk 6,68,724, the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) installed crosswalk buttons to solve all of these issues.
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This new technology allows pedestrians to press buttons on either side of the road to indicate that they want to cross. A countdown would start for a certain period, showing a red signal for vehicles to stop, and simultaneously, a green signal for passengers to cross.
However, since installation, the system has been of no use. During a recent visit, this correspondent noticed that the countdowns were not working and that light bulbs for the signals were torn from the sockets.
“I don’t know what it actually does. I’ve never seen it help since the installation,” said Abdul Aziz, a security guard for an ATM right next to the button.
The situation is similar for the crosswalk buttons on the road in front of the SFX Greenherald International School in Mohammadpur. The mayor of the DNCC, Atiqul Islam, inaugurated the system there, which was installed at a cost of Tk 6,465,594 the same year on 24 October.
After a month of its inauguration, this newspaper reported on the technical malfunctions of the system. As the buttons were not functioning properly, the DNCC and Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) kept staff to help people cross the road.
Despite the poor performance of this system, the DNCC recently installed another set of buttons, spending Tk 771,000, in front of Mirpur Commerce College.
Although the newly installed ones have no apparent technical errors, people are not using the buttons properly.
Despite all this, the DNCC plans to install such buttons in 20 other points of the city, spending 2,05,000,000 Tk.
The 20 points proposed were suggested by the DMP. Authorities have already decided to install the system at the Kuril intersection, in front of Milestone College in Sector Uttara-11 and in front of Gulshan Commerce College on Pragati Sarani.
The traffic engineering department of the DNCC implemented the system. DNCC officials said the technology is new, so it is difficult for them to make it work properly. Notably, they said the same thing last year when this reporter pointed out the dysfunctions.
In addition, during the inauguration of the system in Mohammadpur a year ago, Mayor Atiqul announced that those who did not respect the signals of the button system would be punished by law. However, this did not happen.
According to DNCC, Mesarse Shine Enterprise, a local contractor, along with DNCC was responsible for setting up the buttons in Mohakhali and Mohammadpur, while Mesarse SM Rahman International was the contractor for Mirpur.
Engineer Khorshed Alam of Mesarse Sine Enterprise said they had to use local components due to the low budget of the DNCC which resulted in errors in the system when calculating schedules.
According to him, the DNCC has now asked Mesarse Shine Enterprise to purchase components from overseas and install them in Mohakhali and Mohammadpur. However, this will cost the DNCC an additional 2,90,000 Tk for each system, for a total of 5,80,000 Tk.
THE OPINION OF THE EXPERTS
Bangladesh Planners Institute (BIP) President Dr Akhter Mahmud said: âIt is unfortunate that the system is not working properly. Before installing such systems, authorities should conduct a primary assessment to see if they will work.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Accident Research Institute Assistant Professor Kazi Md Shifun Newaz said, âThere are few requirements for configuring such buttons. The system works best where pedestrian density is low. It works that way in European countries. “
âBut it won’t be as effective in a densely populated city like Dhaka. It will be problematic for both the smooth flow of vehicles and pedestrians. But if the authorities still want to install them, they should carry out pilot tests and see the success rate, and on that basis they can reconsider, âhe said.
“The DNCC should report and conduct a study on the buttons currently installed. Statistics should show if they are working as they are supposed to. They can then proceed to configure other buttons. If not, they should think about something else, âhe said. added.
In addition, authorities need to publicize the system if they want to install and operate it, he said.
EXPLANATION OF THE DNCC
DNCC chief engineer Brigadier General Amirul Islam admitted he had no report on the system’s pass rate and said he was focusing on educational institutions as it is currently the best alternative for student safety.
“We are installing these buttons in front of educational institutions, so that students, teachers and tutors can benefit from them. However, to take full advantage of them, people will need to be more aware, and this will take time,” he said. -he declares. The DNCC will train students and teachers in the proper use of the system, he added.
“We have to bring down the accident rate. Therefore, we have built speed bumps in front of the buttonsâ¦ Without all these provisions, the vehicles will not stop and it would be difficult for the students to cross the roads”, a- he said, adding that these areas are the best for installing the system.
He also welcomed anyone who can come up with a better alternative.