Dhaka’s AI traffic fix stalled despite PM’s directives

DailySun || Shining BD

Published: 4/22/2024 4:49:24 AM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered the activation of traffic light systems at intersections in Dhaka to alleviate congestion.

Gridlocked in Dhaka? Fuming at never-ending commutes? The two city corporations in the capital are dragging their feet on a tech solution that could be your saving grace AI-powered traffic signals.

Despite the prime minister’s orders to get a move on, the city authorities are sluggish in adopting this tech fix, with officials citing the need for more time to complete the necessary tasks, including ensuring coordination among agencies, conducting feasibility studies on the artificial intelligence (AI) traffic system and procuring equipment.

On 23 February this year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered the activation of traffic light systems at intersections in Dhaka to alleviate congestion in the city.

At a media briefing on her Germany visit, Sheikh Hasina said she spoke with the inspector general of police and asked him to activate the traffic lights and operate the system in an orderly manner.

According to officials of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), they installed an AI-run traffic signal system at the Gulshan-2 intersection in June last year and wanted to install the system at six more intersections as a pilot model.

However, officials of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) said they are yet to appoint a consultant for the feasibility study of the system.

They also said the traffic signals which were installed under the clean air and suitable environment project and the AI signal installation project of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) are no longer functional.

They were preparing new projects and purchasing new AI traffic signals for more than 100 intersections in the capital, the DSCC officials said.

Talking to the Daily Sun, DSCC Superintending Engineer (Traffic Engineering) Rajib Khadem said they were yet to appoint any consultant to conduct a feasibility study on the AI traffic system.

He said, “We had appointed a consultant to design 51 intersections and traffic systems. They only delivered designs of the intersections but haven’t yet submitted reports on traffic signals. We’ve now decided to cancel the contract with it and appoint a new one.”

Rajib also said, “We want to proceed slowly and cautiously because the traffic signal project had failed earlier. Apart from getting the feasibility study done, we’re having coordination meetings with the police and ICT Ministry simultaneously.”

He, however, could not mention a timeframe when the AI system will be installed and city commuters will reap the benefit of it.

DNCC officials have echoed Rajib as the modelling of a traffic signal at the Gulshan-2 intersection seems never-ending. The attempt to install adaptive traffic signal systems in six intersections at Bijoy Sharani intersection and adjacent Birshreshtha Jahangir Gate, Prime Minister’s Office, Aeroplane, Farmgate and Tejgaon Flyover intersection under the DNCC has failed as no bidders were found competent in tender.

Talking to the Daily Sun, DNCC Chief Executive Officer Mir Khairul Alam said, “Our piloting of traffic signals at Gulshan-2 will continue till June this year and then we can say if we can implement the model in the rest of the intersections in our area. We want to expand the area of piloting which will cover six more intersections. The process is on for purchasing signal equipment. ”

Talking to the Daily Sun, President of Bangladesh Institute of Planners Adil Mohammed said, “It’s claimed from the government that we’ve entered the highway of development but our traffic system is still managed manually, which is very embarrassing. The city authorities installed traffic systems earlier but they aren’t functional anymore.”

He urged the authorities concerned to install traffic signals in a planned manner and with proper coordination with all stakeholders.

Shining BD