MOST of the traffic-related directives have remained unheeded for years in the capital because of a weak traffic law enforcement, allowing traffic congestion and other public nuisance to increase. A blatant violation of traffic rules and directives, therefore, continues in the presence of traffic officials in capital city amidst a culture of impunity and lack of political will to improve the situation. Regular traffic offences, by all, from very important persons to ordinary people, as New Age reported on Saturday, are what have become commonplace in almost all cities. Unfit, modified and rickety buses still dominate the traffic although the High Court on August 3, 2015 asked the authorities to keep all unfit motorised vehicles off the road. Wrong lane driving, illegal parking and motorcycle driving on footpaths, that too without registration and helmet in most cases, are still going on.
A recapitulation of what the government has done so far to ease traffic congestion in the capital may be pertinent at this point. The first to come was the switch back to automated signalling for traffic control. Then, lanes were designated for different categories of vehicles. It, however, would not be an exaggeration to say that the government’s endeavours at different times were mostly unsystematic, lacking a comprehensive strategy. Even, its approach towards the implementation of the plans was weak-kneed and half-hearted as most of them were abandoned midway. One will not fail to notice that cars plying the roads of Dhaka are still responsible for traffic congestion even where no rickshaws are allowed. They stop and park anywhere they like, quite capriciously, violating traffic rules. As for city service buses, they are in the habit of plying with impunity, disregarding traffic rules. Such disregard for traffic rules, needless to say, has resulted from the fact that a section of traffic officials are indifferent to violation of rules, which is unacceptable. What needs to be pointed out, at this juncture, is that there needs to be a coordinated effort among different agencies involved in traffic management, which seems to be missing thus far.
What is most worrisome is that there seems to be a lack of accountability everywhere. Errant drivers seem to believe that they can get away with road traffic accidents. On the other hand, the law enforcers do not always show the desired urgency to enforce the rules and regulations, and penalise the violators. To bring down the number of road accidents and resolve the problem of traffic snarls, an effective system of accountability needs to be put in place whereby not only the reckless drivers will be made to face the consequences for their action but also the law enforcers will be called to account for their inaction. The government also needs to take expeditious steps to hold public awareness programmes about traffic rules so that drivers and pedestrians alike would follow these rules.
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