|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Bangladesh was ranked 146th out of 187 countries in the 2011 United Nations Human Development Index, and Dhaka is consistently ranked one of the world's most unlivable cities in the Global Liveability Report. Traffic congestion and air pollution play a major role in these poor rankings. Greater Dhaka is one of the fastest-growing megacities in the world. An estimated 300,000 400,000 migrants, mostly poor from rural areas, arrive in the metropolitan area annually. Since 2000, its population has more than doubled and it is projected to grow from 17 million in 2012 to 25 million in 2025. Dhaka is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with 45,508 people per square kilometer in the core area. Such high density in a city with limited inhabitable land owing to the city's topography, limited infrastructure, and low level of public services results in tremendous congestion and constrains the UTS' ability to provide mobility for all people. Car ownership and usage are still low because of lack of disposable income, but these figures are increasing fast with a growing middle class. In 2010, only 150,000 private cars and 500,000 other motorized vehicles were registered in Dhaka, but 60 70 additional cars were registered daily. With annual motorization growth of 8%, there could be up to half a million cars in 2025, increasing local air pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector.
Without better planning and strategy, the metropolitan area will keep on sprawling north and south anarchically along the existing axis. The main issue for Dhaka's urban development lies in its fringes, where most of the urban sprawl and pauperization take place. Concepts like satellite cities, city clusters, and transit-oriented development have to be implemented to organize the urban growth and public spaces toward improved living conditions and climate change mitigation. To ensure a sustainable future for Dhaka, public transport focused on people's mobility needs and accessibility has to be improved and given priority over simple road projects. International experience documents well that interventions that promote nonmotorized transport (NMT), a modal shift from private vehicles to public transport, and integration of land-use and transport planning also help lower GHG emissions in the long run. Investigations conducted as part of the project preparatory TA have shown that, out of six suburban corridors analyzed, the corridor connecting Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) (over 20% of its length) with the emerging GCC (over 80% of its length) has the best potential to organize urban development and support a mass transit infrastructure; and that BRT is the most cost-effective mass transit mode for the selected corridor.
GCC is being created from the merger of Tongi and Gazipur pourashavas (municipalities) as a satellite city on the northern edge of Dhaka with an estimated official population of 1 million, and a large floating population. The area is a garment hub, with 272 factories in the immediate vicinity of the corridor employing about 1 million workers. This adds to the high levels of demand for travel. GCC's current traffic is characterized by the following modal split: (i) 22% of trips are made by private modes; (ii) 40% by public transport (buses); and (iii) 38% are nonmotorized, made on foot or by cycle-rickshaws. The high level of congestion and pollution result from (i) rapid motorization, (ii) a weak road network accounting for only 10% of the urban area when the required ratio is 25%, (iii) weak traffic management to organize the dense and anarchical mix of many competing modes, (iv) lack of transport demand management, and (v) inefficient public transport services. An estimated total of 4,858 large and mini buses run through the project corridor, 25% of which do not have a proper permit; they are shared between 61 licensed city routes operated by 45 companies, mostly private, and 38 intercity routes. The bus fleet is in poor condition; bus stops are rudimentary and do not provide passengers with information on schedule, itinerary or connections; the ticketing system is not developed; and operators compete for passengers, worsening congestion and impairing safety. The situation in road-based traffic collisions is deteriorating, mostly affecting pedestrians (the poorest) who represent more than half of road accident fatalities in DNCC and GCC streets. This safety issue becomes even more acute when looked at from a gender perspective: 80% of garment workers are women commuting on foot in a large proportion.
Close coordination will be ensured with other development partners in the urban transport sector. The selected corridor will connect with the BRT corridor to be undertaken by the World Bank under the Clean Air and Sustainable Environment Project, leading ultimately to a 40 km long mass transit corridor, from Gazipur to Dhaka city center. It is, therefore, crucial to coordinate both projects and ensure full operational and technical integration. With ADB's section having more chances to be implemented first since it has easier institutional and technical features, its demonstration effect will ease implementation of the World Bank section. Japan International Cooperation Agency recently undertook the Dhaka Urban Transport Network Development Study, focusing on the feasibility of a metro (also called mass rapid transit system, MRT). Potential synergy can be found with this project, notably in capacity building and necessary organizational developments to improve the management of Dhaka's UTS.