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This soul-sucking traffic

  • Published at 06:18 pm August 1st, 2017
This soul-sucking traffic

In a recent World Bank-sponsored international conference, it was told that around 3.2 million working hours are being lost every day in Dhaka city due to traffic gridlocks.

Had we converted these hours into currencies, the amount would have been gargantuan.

As per the experts, the economy has been losing several billions of dollars per year only because of traffic congestion in this city of 18 million people. Maybe the size of financial loss often distracts us from perceiving the gravity of social damage being caused by traffic jam, which is in no way less significant than the former, if not more.

No time for family or friends

Traffic has a wide range of social effects which have been plaguing the lives of Dhaka-dwellers in many ways. Firstly, traffic is hurting our family relationships. Nowadays, people can hardly manage any time for their family members after work.

A person who lives in Mirpur with a workplace in Motijheel has to spend at least four to five hours on the road every day during the weekdays. If that person works for eight hours and gets eight hours of sleep, they are left only with three to four hours to perform rest of the tasks of their daily life.

Such predicament has been leading many people towards a more depressing mental state

It seems pretty obvious that these people are finding it quite difficult to manage some quality time for their family. That was just a simple example; there are hundreds of people around us who have been maintaining this schedule for years.

So, the gap among family members has been widening, and relationships are getting more precarious than before.

Children are getting detached from their parents and, in some cases, getting deviated from their paths the parents cannot afford enough time for their kids.

Secondly, Dhaka traffic is making people less interested in attending social gatherings. Nowadays, many refrain from attending wedding receptions and birthday parties only fearing the horrific traffic scene of Dhaka city.

It can, with a little effort, be posited that such tendencies of people have been negatively affecting the social harmony and amity among people.

Anxieties and empathy

Thirdly, many people in Dhaka city start their day with anxieties of not reaching work or class on time, and we often experience a sort of intense competition in getting to work.

Even after making a number of tricky and selfish moves during their everyday journey to office, some people are frequently late to work as they cannot beat the heavy traffic of this city.

Such predicament has been leading many people towards a more depressing mental state on the one hand, while some have been taking advantage of the situation, which is eventually creating a sort of mistrust within society.

Fourthly, traffic is making citizens more impatient and less law abiding. Nobody is willing to compromise a second for others in the busy streets of the capital. Vehicles carrying public university students or VIPs often take wrong sides of the roads, defying all the traffic rules. Such unruly actions from the “mighty” citizens instigate others to break the law.

Traffic has also been taking away the empathy from Dhaka-dwellers. People seem to have no time to look around, even if an accident takes place.

It appears that everyone is in a hurry in the Dhaka streets and their sole intention is to win the rat race by any means. And this is, indeed, not a good sign. Traffic is undoubtedly one of the most serious problems Dhakaites have been facing since last couple of years.

But in recent times, the problem has reached a whole new level and is affecting our lives in many ways. Much research has been done on financial losses incurred due to traffic.

But the time has arrived to take the social impacts of traffic into account, and authorities should deal with the problem with more seriousness.

Shahariar Sajib is a Sub-Editor at the Dhaka Tribune.