Commuters in the capital's Kamalapur area are becoming ever so perturbed by nuisance parking and traffic chaos while passing through the road next to Kamalapur Railway Station.
A railway station is generally a busy place and the roads around it are usually jammed by heavy traffic. But the excessive number of vehicles parked illegally on the Kamalapur road is amplifying the gridlocks, causing immense sufferings to commuters, pedestrians, and businesses.
Shahidul Islam, who travels to Arambagh every day by way of the Kamalapur road, told The Business Standard, "The road itself is not much wide for supporting heavy traffic. The pavements have been occupied by homeless people and illegal tea stalls."
"Traffic congestion in the capital is a daily phenomenon. But the illegally parked bus and CNG-driven auto-rickshaws has worsened the situation for people commuting either by vehicles or on foot," he said.
Abdul Gaffer, owner of an optical store in the area, said, "The drivers of buses and CNG-driven auto-rickshaws regularly park their vehicles in front of my shop, blocking part of the road and part of my shop's entrance. When we ask them to move, they misbehave. It is very disturbing for our business, but no one cares about it."
On a visit to the Kamalapur road, the TBS correspondent found that more than 20 buses have been parked along the side of the road, while the footpaths were occupied by hawkers and street people. Pedestrians are forced to use the roadsides as walkways.
Most of these illegally parked buses, as TBS found, are owned by transport companies like Tisha Group, Shohag Paribahan Private Ltd, Royal Coach, BRTC, Bijoy Express, S Alam Group, and Tuba Line Paribahan.
Akas Das, who has been living in the Kamalapur area for around seven years, told TBS, "Some influential people of the ruling party are collecting money from the bus and CNG-driven auto-rickshaw drivers and letting them park their vehicles on the road stretching from Arambagh to Golapbagh. It is an open secret."
This area is located under Dhaka south city's ward-8 and zone-2.
Contacted by TBS, ward councillor Sultan Mia said, "I have requested the Road Transport and Highways Division several times to clear the road of illegal parkers, but received no effective response till now. Immediate action is needed to end nuisance parking as the public is suffering for a long time."
Nuisance parking and street shops have long been a problem in the capital. Such frequent occurrences are crippling the city roads that are already overwhelmed by heavy traffic. People are suffering, working hours are being wasted, and the country's economy is being damaged. In hindsight, it seems no one is watching over this illegal parking issue.
It is not only in Kamalapur that vehicles are parked illegally, but also in Mirpur-1, Mirpur-10, Dhanmondi, Mohammadpur, Gabtoli, Uttara, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Banani, Badda, Gulistan, Motijheel, Nayapaltan, Sayedabad and Gulshan.
Professor Md Hadiuzzaman, director of the Accident Research Centre at Bangladesh University of Engineering (BUET), said, "Massive investment is being made to develop the road infrastructure. But what we don't usually care about is that a car is driven for about 10% of its lifetime and is parked for the remaining 90% of the time."
"We are not paying attention to where the cars will be kept. The annual growth rate of small cars, personal or official, in the city, is more than 5% and these are the ones usually parked illegally. On the other hand, public transport is declining day by day, which is a warning signal for us," he said.
Professor Md Hadiuzzaman added that the growth rate of cars needs to be curbed. At the same time, the economic lifespan of cars has to be strictly enforced, meaning that as soon as an old car is destroyed, a new one is unloaded.
Besides, mechanical parking facilities should be introduced in the city so that more cars can be parked in small spaces, the professor added.
Suye Men Joe, executive officer of Dhaka South City Corporation, zone-2, said, "Nobody has the right to park vehicles on the road. The public road is for public use, not for illegal parking. We will visit the spot as early as possible, and decisive action will be taken against illegal parking."
Russell Sabrin, chief property officer of Dhaka South City Corporation, said, "We are leasing parking lots where there are opportunities, taking the opinion of the police. We conduct raids against illegal parking, and so do the police occasionally."
"Besides, we will conduct mobile court drives after receiving written complaints from locals of any particular area of the capital," Russell added.