Most of the foot-over bridges in the capital are unusable and impassable for being under the grip of vendors, beggars, floating people, snatchers and sex workers.
Pedestrians hesitate to use the footbridges in fear of unwanted incidents, especially snatching and anti-social activities.
The foot-over bridges were constructed to avert road accidents, ensure pedestrians’ safety and smooth running of vehicles. But most of the footbridges have not been constructed in the right place, experts said.
According to city corporation officials, both the city corporations have constructed 87 foot-over bridges in the capital.
Many pedestrians alleged that most of the footbridges are very dirty and occupied by vendors. Sometimes people feel insecure to use these bridges at night in fear of mugging.
Ignoring the footbridges and braving the running vehicles, many pedestrians cross the streets through the broken or damaged parts of the dividing fences or walls.
Jaywalking and undisciplined movement across the streets have been identified as a major cause behind the rising number of road accidents in the capital.
This correspondent found that pedestrians were rarely using footbridges near Shishu Park, Ramna Park, National Press Club, Karwan Bazar, Officers Club, Shahbagh, Shewrapara, National Museum and Kazipara. There are seven foot-over bridges from Kalabagan to Shyamoli, but those are largely unused.
Most of the footbridges were found to be in a dismal state. Many homeless people were also found dwelling on several bridges.
The foot-over bridge in front of Kabi Sufia Kamal Hall of Dhaka University is used by only a handful people. Many low-income people were seen sitting on the bridge, disrupting the movement of pedestrians.
Dulal Mahmud, a private job holder, said, “Miscreants snatch valuables from the pedestrian for lack of security on many foot bridges. I do not use foot-over bridges as there is not enough security.”
City dwellers mostly use the foot-over bridges in Farmgate, New Market Mirpur-10, Mirpur-1, Kakoli, Banani and Airport area. But parts of these bridges are also occupied by vendors. Hawkers were seen selling various items on the New Marker footbridge.
A large number of people use the footbridge at Mirpur-10 intersection. But this relatively large footbridge has become a meeting place for idle people and remains overcrowded most of the times. Harassment of women on the bridge is not uncommon. Many footbridges in the capital are frequented by floating sex workers.
Many foot-over bridges will have to be removed to make way for some upcoming projects, including the metro rail. The Moghbazar foot-over bridge has already been removed as it interfered with the under-construction flyover project.
Pro Dr Moazzem Hossain, Director of Accident Research Institute (ARI) told daily sun that foot-over bridges are also important like roads. The City Corporations should maintain those footbridges properly to ensure maximum usability.
Referring to jaywalking and haphazard road crossing, he said people need to follow certain rules and regulations to live in urban areas, but most people do not follow the rules.
“So we have to raise awareness among the people for using the foot-over bridges. Besides, the City Corporations have some negligence as they are not keeping those things clean and free from occupation,” he added.
When contacted, DNCC Public Relations Officer (PRO) Manzur-e-Mawla said Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) has 56 foot over bridges and those are maintained by the Traffic Engineering Division of DNCC.
He informed that beautification of the most of the foot-over bridges has been completed recently.
“It is true that people feel insecure to use some footbridges at night in fear of snatching. Sometimes unpleasant incidents occurred in the night,” he added.
Rajib Khadem, executive engineer of Traffic Engineering Division of DSCC informed that Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has 31 foot-over bridges.
“We have already had taken steps for the beautification of the foot-over bridges to make those more attractive to the pedestrians,” he added.
Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) General Secretary Md Abdus Sobhan said most foot-over bridges were built in an unplanned way. The City Corporation spent huge money to build these footbridges, but most of the bridges are not at the right place. Besides, poor maintenance has made many footbridges unusable.
He also said the height of the footbridges in the capital is also more than usual, which discourages pedestrians to use those.
“Foot-over bridges are not appropriate for disabled persons, pregnant women and old people. Zebra crossing should be placed in every possible intersection to make the city street more accessible and safer for those people,” he added.