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In July, in a World Bank-sponsored international conference, the need for planned development of the eastern fringe of Dhaka was discussed.

The unplanned growth of Dhaka City has made it one of the world’s most dense cities with unprecedented congestion. The average driving speed on Dhaka city streets had dropped to less than 7 km/h from 21 km/h a decade ago.

Traffic congestion eats up 3.2 million working hours every day and cost the economy several billions of dollars every year. The World Bank country director in his presentation said Dhaka’s population was expected to double to 35 million by 2035 and without proper planning and investment, the city will never deliver its full potential.

Qimiao Fan, the World Bank country director, said that: “Dhaka’s growth has taken place without adequate planning, which has resulted in a city with poor liveability and vulnerability to disasters.”

A well-planned east Dhaka could boost productivity and liveability, helping to relieve congestion in the rest of the capital. If the current trend continues, eastern Dhaka runs the risk of facing the same low productivity as the rest of the capital. But, if properly managed, the development potential of eastern Dhaka would be massive, as it is mainly a rural area and is practically walking distance from the city’s most prosperous neighbourhoods.

Only a clear vision of government agencies, private investors, development organisations and the people, combined with timely actions, can ensure a planned city. One of the big hopes is the Dhaka Metro Rail, of which is expected that in 2021, an average of 5 lakh people will commute with.

Good news is that the World Bank is fully committed to this endeavour. During the meeting, they said that: “We support the investments that are needed to transform Dhaka.”

Other attendants emphasized that Dhaka needs a constitution of its own or a common authority on city development and management. This would decrease the possibility of confusion, clashes and overlaping of a multiplicity of organisations.

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