Jammed, crowded & overloaded – these 3 words describe the transport and traffic situation in Bangladesh to the point. Whether its Ramadan or not, as the most densely populated country in the world (apart from places like Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore and a few others of this category), movement of goods and people is a constant issue. And as traffic laws are more or less only in the books, everybody tries to get the maximum out of his boat, truck or bus. This (of course) results in hair rising outcomes and the rule conscious European traveller has to raise an eyebrow more than once in a while.
The Dhaka traffic situation.
It’s like a journey into the past century; at least in old Dhaka the majority of vehicles on the road are Rikschas – 3 wheelers for 2 passengers or whatever goods to be carried. Most Rikscha cyclers are very skinny but very athletic men, who can cycle like devils. Everyone wants to overtake the others and I can assure you, they cycle very fast! I was scared to be airborne at some corners. Well and then the Autorikschas blend in as well. They’re looking like green and yellow insects right out of a comic movie :) Again they want to be the faster ones on the road, not wanting to give way to the few private cars that ply the roads. the private cars – often with tinted windows – think they are the “Elite” of the country, so why to give way to anything?! But there are still bigger and heavier vehicles on the roads. Buses and trucks. And these vehicles are often heavy overloaded, 60 passengers in a bus plus a few on top or hanging on the back is no exception.
As said, everybody wants to be first and the result is a constant honking, honking, honking … the bigger the vehicle the noisier the honk. Everybody is pushing against the other vehicle and there are absolutely no traffic lines. The Rikschas or Autorikschas are trying to sneak into the front of a big honking bus … this can really make even the most case hardened traveller a bit uncomfortable.
Crossings, roundabouts or one-way roads are there to be used in the wrong direction, traffic lights and policemen are abundant, but rather broken or hopeless. Everyone moves at his own idea or takes the shortest short-cut, no matter what’s in the way. Fact is, there are about 30 deaths on the roads per day in Dhaka … The only way to handle such situations as a tourist is simple: Lean back, watch the chaos and have faith that you will not be the one of those who ends up in these statistics.
There is definitely too much energy on the roads in Bangladesh. One should think about sponsoring a Rikscha driver for competing in the Tour de France. Even without doping and with a good bike, I’m sure that he will have an outstanding performance.
The traffic situation is not only crowded and jammed but also very noisy. Take a look at this video and you’ll understand what I mean …