Panthapath to Karwan Bazar is one of the busiest roads in Dhaka. Every day the road sees heavy traffic.
While traffic jam on a major Dhaka street is not news to anyone, irresponsibly parking vehicles on the road and thus directly contributing to worsening congestion should certainly be noted.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) put up signs directing all not to park any vehicle on the road, but the situation on the ground paints a picture of blatant public nonchalance. While visiting the area last Friday, this correspondent observed the condition first-hand.
One of the biggest and busiest shopping malls, Bashundhara City, happens to be on the road, drawing droves of people, particularly during the weekend. Many of them park their cars on the road while going to the mall, despite paid parking space in the basement of the complex.
Some drivers blamed the mall for not having enough parking spaces while some said they park on the road simply because they see others doing that.
“The owner of the car told me to park on the road as the mall's parking area is occupied,” said Siraj Ahmed, a driver who parked on the street opposite to the shopping centre.
A biker got visibly agitated and responded rudely when asked why he parked on the road: “I'm not the only one doing this! I see other vehicles parked here, so I did the same.”
The mall's parking area can accommodate 800 cars, nearly 800 motorcycles and 400 cycles, according to parking in-charge MD Alamgir.
He said, “We accommodate cars more than we can afford to most of the time. Our parking area is always occupied with the flow of cars; just as one leaves, another shows up.”
Regarding roadside parking, he said, “That is not our concern. Traffic police is supposed to look into that. We have security guards who direct vehicles to our parking zone.”
People who do not park on the road or use public transport were annoyed.
“I have not seen this road free for once. Vehicles are always parked on the road, choking the flow of traffic. We waste hours on the road thanks to irresponsible behaviour of some,” said Hanif Sheikh, a private service-holder, who came to Bashundhara City with his 14-year-old daughter.
An electronics vendor Md Russel said, “On holidays, the road stays free in the morning and noon but in the evening starts seeing heavy traffic, and road-side parking only makes movement more difficult.”
Asked, traffic police officials said the two sides of the road belong to two different traffic areas. The side right in front of the mall falls under DMP west division, and the opposite side of the road belongs to south division.
Traffic sergeants on the road were seen directing vehicles and trying to mitigate the problem in the presence of vehicles parked on the road, violating traffic rules.
A number of law enforcers' vehicles were also parked there.
“Some vehicles of senior officers are parked here due to duty reasons and we are making sure that those do not cause any issue for the public,” said DMP (west division) Traffic Sergeant Md Shimul.
When asked about vehicles parked on the other side of the road, he said that is not his area.
Seeking anonymity, a traffic police from DMP south division said they try to drive away cars parked on the road but sometimes the vehicles belong to “influential people with political connection”, and when they try to fine them they call high-ups -- putting unjust pressure on the field officer.