Traffic congestion is one of the biggest problems in the city due to the increased population and vehicular movement
An alarming number of unregistered rickshaws and auto-rickshaws are currently infesting the already narrow roads of Mymensingh city. With no road widening project in sight, the city streets exhibit slow-moving traffic during the busiest times of the day, inconveniencing thousands of everyday commuters.
But even just 10 years ago, the city looked completely different.
According to official data, the population of Mymensingh city in 2011 was only 250,000. At the time, only 5,000 rickshaws and auto-rickshaws plied the city streets.
However, after it was upgraded to a divisional city and city corporation, the city population rose to 850,000 by 2021. The number of rickshaws and auto-rickshaws also increased to over 24,000.
Traffic congestion is one of the biggest problems in the city now due to the increased population and vehicular movement.
Abdul Quader Chowdhury, Mymensingh unit president of Nirapad Sarak Chai, said: “There are so many auto-rickshaws on every street in the city. Needless to say, traffic on the road is very slow-moving. The distance of the city from end to end is around 8-10km, but it takes hours to cover it.”
The authorities have taken several steps at different times to deal with the traffic jam but to no avail.
In 1997, automated digital traffic lights were installed at seven intersections of the city. These lights remained operational for the first few years but later became non-functional.
A town bus service was introduced in 2009 to reduce traffic congestion and make public transport more effective. After a year, the service was discontinued over political disagreements.
In 2015, battery-powered rickshaws were brought under registration, which were of little to no benefit.
Mymensingh Traffic Inspector Syed Mahbubur Rahman said a total of 109 traffic policemen were daily on duty at 18 points in the metropolis. “With such little manpower, it is very difficult to handle the pressure of so many vehicles.”
He said: “New roads have not been built nor have the old roads been widened in the metropolis in the last few decades. Meanwhile, the pressure of pedestrians and vehicles is increasing every year. On top of that, bus stands and road encroachments are resulting in heavy traffic inside the city.”
Mymensingh Superintendent of Police Ahmar Uzzaman said a master plan needed to be implemented through a joint initiative. “The number of three-wheelers must be kept under control. Otherwise, it will be difficult to get rid of traffic jams.”
In his comments, Mymensingh City Mayor Ikramul Haque Titu said three-wheeler routes in the metropolis had been divided on the basis of registration numbers and colours. “We will soon launch campaigns against unregistered vehicles. Besides, Ecnec has approved a road-widening project, so the construction work of that project will start very soon.”