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Occupied, damaged footpaths major reason for road accidents

Shahin Akhter

People walk down the roads as footpaths remain occupied by vendorsPeople walk down the roads as footpaths remain occupied by vendors

The lack of accessible footpaths, many which are damaged or containing obstacles preventing people walking on them, are a major reason pedestrians fall victim to road accidents, experts said.
Many parts of the roads in the city — including Rampura DIT Road, Shaheed Sangbadik Selina Parvin Road, Satmasjid Road, Mirpur Road, Shewrapara Road, Mirpur 10 and 11 roads, roads from Moghbazar and Karwan Bazaar to FDC, the road from Karwan Bazar to Hatirpul Bazar, and the road from Azimpur to the Science Laboratory — are either occupied, damaged or too narrow for walking
‘I actually am forced to take a rickshaw to go from Rampura kitchen market to Hajipara as it is almost impossible for people to walk on the footpaths in the area because of roadside shops and waste,’ said Hamida, a Rampura resident.
Nahed Akhter, an Eden Girls’ College student, said that footpaths from the Science Laboratory to Azimpur had been occupied by hawkers and filled with wastes.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology University’s Accident Research Institute director Hasib Mohammad Ahsan told New Age on Tuesday that about 58 per cent of road accidents that they have researched involve pedestrians.
‘Year after year we keep urging the government to increase facilities such as footpaths and footbridges for pedestrians,’ he said.
There was no way to deny that occupied and damaged footpaths were one of the reasons behind many accidents involving pedestrians, he said.
‘The footpaths are occupied by construction materials and hawkers’ shops which should have been removed a long time ago,’ he said.
According to government statistics, the total number of road accidents in Bangladesh is around 4,000 a year. But private researchers say that the number should be more than double.
BUET’s urban and regional planning professor Sarwar Jahan, said that the existing footpaths were not sufficient for pedestrians.
‘Footpaths should be wide and free of all obstructions,’ he said and. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police should take care of the footpaths.
Families United Against Road Accidents member lawmaker Tarana Halim urged the government to build footbridges and zebra crossings at different points of roads to help pedestrians.
‘Pedestrians spitting on the footpaths and using them as toilets is unacceptable,’ she said, urging pedestrians to use footpaths in a civlised manner.
According to the two city corporations of Dhaka, there are about 389 kilometres of footpaths in the city.
The Dhaka South City Corporation’s chief estate officer Tazul Islam Pradhan told New Age that they were continuously pulling down illegal structures on the roads.
‘I know that footpaths at places like Segun Bagicha and Hatirpul kitchen market are occupied by different structures,’ he said, adding that soon an demolition initiative would be conducted at these places.
He said that it was the DMP’s responsibility to monitor the footpaths as the city corporations did not have enough manpower to do this.
Another senior city corporation officer said that unplanned footpath management and corruption were a major reason behind the poor condition of the city footpaths.
DMP deputy commissioner of traffic (south) told New Age on Tuesday that he did not know that whether the city corporations or the DMP had the responsibility to monitor the city footpaths.
‘Please ask the joint commissioner of crimes and operation department for information,’ he added.  
The High Court on February 26, this year directed the home secretary, the police, and the city corporations to remove obstacles on the footpaths from Zero Point to Sadarghat in 48 hours to mitigate sufferings of pedestrians.
In addition, the High Court on March 5 asked the DMP and the two city corporations to take action not to allow anyone to drive vehicles or ride motorcycles on footpaths.
The court also directed these authorities to remove, in 30 days, all hoardings from footbridges and directed the two city corporations to submit a detailed report providing information on the total number of roads in the capital city.

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