All countries around the world are in crisis situation due to COVID-19. Bangladesh is no different. Bangladesh government has relaxed lockdown considering the livelihood of people. In this circumstance, safe transportation is an essential issue to consider. There is urgency to consider the high volume of our (around 3 crore) daily office trips. The limited public transit in Dhaka is not enough to ensure safe travel during COVID-19 situation. So it is important to improve walking and cycling environment. Speakers opined such in a Facebook Live program organized by Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust on 30th May, 2020 about ‘Safe-transportation during Corona pandemic’.
Former Director of Directorate General of Health Services and Professor of Public Health of Jahangirnagar University Dr Ruhul Furkan Siddik said that, we will have to be very conscious until vaccination of coronavirus is invented. It is very important to follow WHO guideline while boarding public transit. Otherwise, controlling COVID-19 will be impossible for us.
President of Bangladesh Institute of Planner Dr Akter Mahmud said that, we will have to be prepared considering the pandemic. If the public transits carry half passengers, there will be a crisis. But unfortunately there is no clear guideline about it. It is important to improve our walking and cycling environment. Many cities around the world are prioritizing walking and cycling as mode of transport post-COVID. Some have already started to build the infrastructures. We must follow the same to be prepared for future shocks.
Advisor of WBB Trust Debra Efroymson said that, we should give up the car-based transport system and focus on walking and cycling. It will be easier to maintain physical distance if we walk or cycle. In addition, it is supportive towards environment, health and economy. We must give importance to accessibility of women, children and person with disabilities, when we are planning transportation system.
Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Environment movement (BAPA) Maruf Hossain said that, it is really hard to manage around 3 crore daily trips with a limited number of public transit. The relevant bodies must coordinate in this regard. Seating arrangement, fare and hygiene etc. issues should be monitored properly. But we do not have any clear guideline. The frequency of public transit should be increased. And we must not forget, 60% of the city dwellers’ mode of transport is walking in Dhaka. So walking environment should be improved.