Traffic in Dhaka

July 4, 2014

One of the many challenges of doing business in a developing country is the (typically) low level of public services and infrastructure. Anyone who’s spent time in India, Brazil, etc will recognize some version of this wonderful description of Dhaka from Michael Hobbes (lightly edited):  

I am in a tiny steel cage attached to a motorcycle, stuttering through traffic in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In the last ten minutes, we have moved forward maybe three feet, inch by inch, the driver wrenching the wheel left and right, wriggling deeper into the wedge between a delivery truck and a rickshaw in front of us.

Up ahead, the traffic is jammed so close together that pedestrians are climbing over pickup trucks and through empty rickshaws to cross the street. Two rows to my left is an ambulance, blue light spinning uselessly. The driver is in the road, smoking a cigarette, standing on his tiptoes, looking ahead for where the traffic clears. Every once in awhile he reaches into the open door to honk his horn.

This is what the streets here look like from seven in the morning until ten at night. If you’re rich, you experience it from the back seat of a car, the percussion muffled behind glass. If you’re poor, you’re in a rickshaw, breathing in the exhaust.

Link from prior probability. Now ask yourself: If you live in Brazil, do you want stadiums or transportation infrastructure?

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