Why Development Project Fails?
Zobayer Ahmed
02 Apr,2015

In the capital of Bangladesh, there are a number of Foot over-bridges not being used by the passersby. However, millions of money was spent to build such infrastructure. Human civilization, blessed by the advancement of science and technology, has been in progress to make the life easier. Hence, as the development concern, foot over-Bridge is a symbol of modern city life. Unfortunately, in Dhaka, the most densely populated city of the country has a good number of foot over-bridges remained unused by Jaywalkers for years!


Jaywalkers tend to put their life at risk not using foot over-bridge. The scenario has been normal here in Dhaka.


Before erecting the bridge, there was public demand for it. Perhaps, an accident stimulated the local people to claim a foot over-bridge at that place even though they are not habituate to use such footbridge on the regular basis. Thus it is a matter of great concern, why the bridges are remained unused.  Some more similar examples can be put foreword to show that all development project do not benefit the people, or people are reluctant to receive benefits from the projects.  Whereas, if we carefully look at some of the development projects of which people use it and get the benefits, they are basically confined to do so. For example, Farmgate over-bridge in the capital Dhaka, there is a strong hedge on the road divider. Consequently, the passerbies are bound to use foot over-bridge in crossing the road. Likewise, Gulistan Under Pass has now become a large electronics market even though it seems unrealistic or at least ambitious to build such a market in underground. From development perspective, it is apparent to ask about the success of some of the projects. 


Impatient pedestrians defy barbed wires on the median to cross the road while at least three footbridges lie a few minutes away, at the busy Farmgate intersection in the capital. Not only do they put their lives at risk but their children's too. In order to stop the hazardous practice, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) conducted a three-day drive on November 25-27 between Farmgate and Karwan Bazar intersections, fining several hundred jaywalkers. But the move apparently went in vain. The photos were taken within a space of a few hundred feet. Photo: Anisur Rahman



Foot over-bridge is just over the head, despite that, people even school goers have frequently been crossing roads not using foot over-bridge.


 Over 350 jaywalkers were fined  for not using foot overbridge at Banglamotor in Dhaka on 25 Nov,2014.


One of the major reasons behind these unused infrastructures is that the mind setting of local people is not ready to get the benefit from these. In Bangladesh, people are in generally unwilling to follow the rules and regulations. Moreover, they are not cultured to abide by the guidelines in any circumstance. On the other hand, in developed countries, people are in usually respectful to the laws. Rather using foot over-bridges, people feel more comfort to cross the road transversely on foot. In addition to this, traffic signaling is also not valid in the cities of Bangladesh. Further, because of our cultural constraint and mind settings, the traffic signaling system in Dhaka and other cities of the country is still run manually. However, in the developed counties, strict law enforcement and the respect to laws have enabled them to install automatic traffic signaling system. It is very frequent in Dhaka city that the vehicles are running in spite of red light and the presence of traffic police. Thus it can easily be justified the validity of spending money in automatic traffic signaling system.


ONLY mobile court's week long drive, fine and imprisonment forced the jaywalkers to use foot over-bridge. Before launching the special court drive, the DMP had run a three-day awareness campaign through the media against jaywalking.
According to traffic rules, one can be sentenced to maximum six months’ imprisonment or Tk 200 for not using footbridges or crossing the streets sporadically. Earlier, the authorities have decided to take strict punitive measures, including six-month jail, against the pedestrians for crossing busy roads without using footbridge or underpass.

One of the most common criticisms made by anthropologists of development planning is, development intervention is planned in a ‘top-down’ manner rather ‘bottom-up’ approach. Development proposals and strategies are made by distant officials, have little idea about the conditions, capabilities or needs in the area or community which has earmarked for development interventions. By imposing such plans on people, rather than allowing them to participate in the decision-making process, it is argued, interventions are doomed to failure, for development can only ever be sustainable if it is from the ‘grassroots’. Criticisms are thus aimed not at development per se, but at the way in which it is carried out.

The culture, attitudes, norms, values, mind settings and needs of local people are some of the important factors that must be taken into contemplation before launching any development project. This is true both in local and national levels. Indeed, it is one of the major reasons behind our underdevelopment; it depends on the doctors and their prescriptions not the patient for being sick. Sitting in an air conditioned room at a distant office, it is easier to prescribe policies but tough to include the local people in designing the project, convincing them about the importance of the project and incorporating their views.

To make the development project successful, the respective authority must consider the indigenous culture, life style and popular attitudes. Otherwise, the benefit of the project will never accrue to the targeted group and leave the project under failure.

(The writer is a teacher of the Department of Economics & Banking, International Islamic University Chittagong (IIUC). He can be reached at ecozobayer@gmail.com)