Accidents, major or minor, are happening almost every day on the capital's Mayor Mohammad Hanif Flyover. Over the last two years, almost 40 people were killed and 150 injured in over 200 accidents. Experts believe that excessive speed of vehicles, defective expansion joints, unplanned bus stands and stairs, and jaywalking are the reasons behind the accidents. They demanded introduction of a digital system controlling the movement of vehicles as well as fixing problems in the existing system to prevent accidents in future.
According to experts, the flyover has no system to control the speed of vehicles. Concrete joints have been wrapped with steel plates parallel to the road in several places of the flyover, which are called “Expansion joints”. These expansion joints have gaps wider than usual, which are causing the accidents. Motorcycle riders are especially at risk of falling prey to accidents. Former director of the Accident Research Institute at BUET, professor Shamsul Haque, explained, “The expansion joints of the flyover have not been installed correctly. As a result, when speeding vehicles hit the expansion joints, they lose their balance and accidents happen.” He also said that the appropriate gap width in an expansion joint is usually predetermined so as to reduce the chance of accidents for vehicles. But gaps in the expansion joints of Hanif flyover are nearly 1 inch wide, which is more than the appropriate limit.
Over the last two years, almost 200 accidents have occurred, according to Jatrabari and Wari police stations and traffic police sources. Almost 40 people died and 150 were injured in these accidents. At least one person dies every month in accidents on this flyover. In this regard, Anisur Rahman, officer in charge of Jatrabari police station, said, “The excessive speed of vehicles is a major reason behind these accidents. Among other reasons are bus stands set up on the flyover, buses stopping randomly to pick up or drop off passengers, jaywalking, etc.” Sayeed Khokon, mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation said, “We are in talks with the construction company to solve the problems identified by the media at different times. I have already sent a letter to them urging them to identify the problems and take necessary initiatives”. Further steps will be taken upon receiving their reply, he added. According to sources, there was no bus stop in the blueprint of the flyover. But the Orion Group constructed 7-8 illegal stops and stairs which were not in the blueprint. So it is hampering the usual movement of vehicles. As a result, the number of accidents has increased. It was found during a visit that there is no digital system to control the excessive speed of vehicles on the Hanif flyover. Expansion joints installed in different places have gaps nearly an inch wide.
Furthermore, bus stops have been set up in front of the RAB-3 office, inside Sayedabad bus terminal, and on the road to Janapath Junction and Dolairpar. The first staircases have been set up inside Sayedabad bus terminal and there is another one within 200 yards. There are two more at the Jatrabari road junction. Local ward councilor Delwar Hossain Dilu said, “I protested against the decision of making bus stops and stairs. But no one listened to me. During meetings with the mayor, police, and other relevant authorities, I also made some suggestions of my own.” Project in charge of the Orion Group, Shahjahan Ali said, “The blueprint of the flyover was made by a foreign company. The City Corporation appointed American Jeykop as consultant while we appointed a Canadian company named Lhasa as consultant.” He ruled out the possibility of mistakes in the construction of the flyover.
About the unplanned bus stops and stairs, he said, “Bus stops and stairs have been constructed because of the demands of the times. But these are not causing any problems, but are rather preventing accidents.” Then he added, “Motorcycles are the main reason behind accidents. Sometimes buses and other vehicles meet with accidents trying to save motorcycle-riders. Banning motorcycles could solve the problem but we cannot do that, because there was a provision for motorcycle movement in the contract.”