September 16, 2022
DHAKA – At 7 AM, light winds blow and little birds chirp cheerfully. It marks the calm before the storm, the storm which conjures up without needing a weather forecast and makes people shudder by its mere remembrance. We are talking about Dhaka city’s top nuisance: traffic jams.
With such insane traffic looming over our morning commute, is demanding punctuality even fair?
Just last month, our entire class watched with horror and pity as a student tried to make her way into class but was denied entry for being 15 minutes late. Harsh as it may seem, it is not uncommon for such incidents to occur, more so in recent times.
One would expect that the shared experience of having lived through Dhaka traffic would make one kinder to each other but the reality is far from it. It is unfortunate that it is as such because students and employees have very little, if any, hand in controlling road traffic. Dhaka is a highly centralised city with most corporate offices and good educational institutions located in clusters. This channels all buses, rickshaws, and private vehicles to the same few ill-planned routes that run across the city. And so, it remains a mammoth task for people living away from such places to make it to their destinations on time on most days.
For instance, gone are the times when one could reach Bashundhara from Uttara in under an hour. With the newfound madness of the city’s traffic, and development work along the way, it is unlikely one will make it out of the airport road’s traffic without losing all their patience and feeling vindictive of every single traffic signal. While this sounds extreme, it can hardly contest the tyranny of the long hours one has to wait on just about any road in Gulshan.
Gulshan, the place of ultimate corporate frenzy, is also a place where vehicles move only an inch at a time. At least that is what appears to be the case whenever one finds themselves around the Gulshan circles. It becomes nearly impossible for anyone trying to reach their office to predict if they would be able to make it on time. Sometimes the best option one is left with is to abandon their cars and walk so that they do not have to meet with glaring faces from their managers at work. Of course, this scenario is not a far stretch when we speak of places like Mohakhali, Karwan Bazar or Motijheel.
In the end, it is nobody’s cup of tea to suffer through the orchestra of honking cars and heated cries of arguing drivers every day but when you live in a place like Dhaka, such encounters are inevitable. However, what isn’t inevitable is teachers and employers becoming more forgiving of the occasional or perhaps even the routine tardiness so that we all may have one less thing to worry about every time we find ourselves stuck at another traffic signal.