Land-use planning along highwaysTreasurer, Centre for Urban, Studies
THE importance of projects and programmes for improvement of national and regional road network in the country is well realised. Road transportation today has become the most important means of communication and all development efforts are, therefore, concentrated towards planning, design and construction of nation-wide network of roads at all levels. However the impact of such development without proper planning on the social, physical and environmental aspects is not very positive. Negative issues such as lack of road safety, environmental degradation of surrounding area is occurring in spite of improved means of communication and economic development.
The rate of road accidents, loss of life every day is testimony to what the nation has achieved by not paying adequate attention to integration of land-use planning and road infrastructure. The physical characteristics of any roadside area reveal the inadequate planning of the road layout. Problems arising are: encumbrances on roadsides, especially on the road reserve areas of both sides by all kinds of uses; unrestricted/unplanned growth of shops, markets, bazaars and settlements within close distances of highways and local roads; lack of planned areas for stoppages of buses/trucks for passengers and goods which continue loading/unloading directly into the busy road; tree plantation along curved roads indiscriminately cause severe accidents by limiting the vision of drivers, a problem accentuated in darkness and unlighted roads; and location of industries and institutions along roadsides in most areas cause conflict among pedestrians and vehicular traffic and result in fatal accidents.
There is a need to deal with the above problems through careful land-use and physical planning. Bangladesh is experiencing rapid urbanisation along main transport corridors in recent years. Industry, commerce and housing are rapidly developing in an unplanned way all along these corridors. The Dhaka Chittagong highway, Dhaka Sylhet highway, Dhaka-Khulna highway, Dhaka-Rajshahi highway are the most important corridors that are under pressure of development. Factors increasingly important in influencing the location of such infrastructure development needs to be examined and planning control exercised.
An in-depth research/programme is urgent to look into the land-use planning of road side areas which influence the development of urban corridors which are directly related to the following factors: accessibility to major urban centres; availability of high land; utility services available especially gas, electricity, water, ports and highways; and nearness to established industries other institutions.
All highways sides are now subject to uncontrolled growth leading to all kinds of hazards. Unplanned development along road sides will cause serious problems in the future with respect to human settlements. Environmental problems will reach an acute stage along with social and physical complexities.
Careful study at the regional and local scale for development of land use along all transportation networks is therefore essential. Lack of vision for development and improvement of roadside land use and environmental aspects is a major deficiency in our national physical planning. Economists, planners and highway engineers must consider the following aspects of roadside land use: planning of roadside land use and inclusion of environmental and social safety measures; preservation of agricultural land and safeguarding environmental and ecological balance of road intercepted areas; and strengthening town and country planning legislation at the policy level for local enforcement of land use control in support of the above factors.
Salma A Shafi
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