Bus Rapid Transit faces coordination problem

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Plan to launch the city’s first dedicated bus rapid transit service is facing a bumpy ride due to lack of coordination among the government agencies being tasked to implement the project.

Officials said separate feasibility studies commissioned by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank on the Dhaka-Gazipur bus service has added to the problem, leading to delays in project planning.

The BRT is one of a raft of high profile projects the government has planned to ease the capital’s acute traffic congestion and rein in galloping bus fares. Other projects include a metro rail and a 26-5 kilometre elevated expressway.

Dhaka City Corporation, a wing of the local government ministry, and the Dhaka Transport Coordination Board under the communications ministry have been involved with the World Bank-funded study.

The Ministry of Forestry and Environment has also been included in the study as the BRT falls under purview of the ministry’s Clean Air Sustainable Environment (CASE) project.

Feasibility study of another part of the BRT is being financed by the ADB and it involves the Agriculture Ministry and the Bridge Division of the Communications Ministry.

“We’re finding it hard to coordinate among the ministries and government departments on the BRT project. It is even difficult to know who is doing which part of the jobs,” said an official.

Officials said the ADB study has found alignment from Gazipur to Airport feasible for the dedicated and modern BRT, but it has now unleashed new problems of coordination.

The study has suggested that the government take control of some land of the Gazipur-based Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) to build a depot for parking the articulated buses for the service.

“But the Agriculture Ministry is silent about the issue,” said an official, adding the study team also proposed that Bridge Division expand the Tongi Bridge so that the bridge has a dedicated lane for the BRT.

“It has now become necessary to hold meetings with all the stakeholders to iron out the differences. The BRT project is facing unwanted delays due to the lack of coordination among the agencies,” said a project official.

Experts have said mega-city Dhaka urgently needs a dedicated BRT service for its five million commuters. Major cities in Asia such as Jakarta have introduced the service decades ago and have successfully cut congestion.

According to a government plan, BRT will have hundreds of same colour high capacity buses to transport at least 20,000 passengers an hour in a dedicated route. It would replace buses on various routes and bring discipline in the corridor.

BRT is a popular mode of mass transport in India, Indonesia, Japan, China and Canada.

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