Anarchy on Dhaka streets returns

Shahin Akhter | Published: 00:05, Aug 10,2018 | Updated: 00:13, Aug 10,2018

 
 

Photos taken in Airport Crossing in Dhaka on Thursday show (1) buses trying to overtake each other recklessly (2) pedestrians crossing a road running through vehicles avoiding a nearby footbridge risking their lives and (3) buses parked in the busy crossing narrowing the road for traffic movement. — Ali Hossain Mintu

Anarchy on Dhaka city streets returned amidst ongoing traffic week programme the Dhaka Metropolitan Police have taken in the face of school and college students’ protests for road safety and against anarchy in the transport sector.
Movement of unfit vehicles, driving without licence, reckless driving and driving on wrong lanes as well as jaywalking continued despite the filing of huge number cases by traffic police for violation of traffic rules.
Road safety experts observed that the situation would not change in a short period as the irregularities on roads continued for a long time.
They urged the authorities concerned to continue the intensive drive for a longer period, provide training to drivers and check fitness of vehicles immediately.
The students, mostly from schools and colleges, recently hit the authorities and people hard by their recent weeklong protests against these irregularities.
These students took to the streets especially in Dhaka city for about a week and started to control traffic compelling people to rush at Bangladesh Road Transport Authority for collecting legal documents and licences, follow lanes on roads, use helmets, footbridge and zebra crossing.
Most city service buses were off the roads during the protests as transport sector leaders enforced an undeclared transport strike.
As the students went back to their classrooms following assurance of establishment of road safety checking anarchy by the government, people found the situation back to the square.
City streets were again flooded with dented and rundown buses, minibuses and human haulers.
Reckless and underage driving never stopped in the city while most of the risky human haulers and even buses were being driven by boys much under legal age for professional driving, 21 years.
Buses resumed taking passengers from everywhere.
Lane system became invisible and wrong-lane driving, mostly by influential people, did not stop even after repeated drives.
Reckless motorcycle driving and driving without helmets and registration, with more than one pillion passengers and on footpaths continued posing risks to people every day.
Jaywalkers again began to ignore footbridges and footpaths.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police on August 5 began observing traffic week for taking ‘tough line’ on violators of traffic rules and ensuring enhanced punishments for offences taking into consideration the spirit of the students’ movement against anarchy in transport sector.
Usually, as per DMP statistics, traffic police file about 2,500 cases a day for violation of rules in Dhaka city.
In the ongoing drive, the number of cases filed on a single day increased by about three times.
In August 5-9 (till 3:00pm on Thursday) traffic police filed 38,328 cases, including 7,796 against drivers.
In the same period, they filed highest 20,976 cases against motorcycles, 3,390 cases for driving on wrong lanes, 1,451 cases against unfit vehicles, 328 video cases and 151 direct cases for using mobile while driving, 166 cases against tinted glasses on vehicles and eight cases for using stickers of DMP or police.
Traffic police also seized
834 motorcycles in the period.
They realised Tk 1.89 crore and towed 3,470 vehicles in August 5-8.
Dhaka Road Transport Owners’ Association on Thursday started a drive against city service buses running under contract system and buses without fitness certificates.
Public transport expert SM Salehuddin told New Age on Thursday that this anarchy could not be checked in a short time as almost every road users used to violate traffic rules for a long time because of lack of enforcement of the law.
‘Now owners are not running their unfit vehicles and drivers without licences are not driving to avoid the police drive,’ he said, adding, ‘ultimate sufferers are the common people who are facing inhuman situation on roads right now.’
Salehuddin, also former executive director of the then Dhaka Transport Coordination Board, urged the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority for asking the owners to repair unfit vehicles and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation to train drivers.
‘Most importantly, I request the traffic police to continue the drive with patience for a longer period and allow less unfit vehicles to run considering sufferings of commuters,’ he said.
Passengers Welfare Association of Bangladesh secretary general Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury alleged that the traffic police were only filing cases and realising fines from violators instead of any effective step like making people aware of traffic rules.
He urged the police to make people and drivers aware of different traffic rules which people already forgot because of non-enforcement.
Dhaka Road Transport Owners’ Association general secretary Khandakar Enayet Ullah said that on Thursday they cancelled membership of five companies – Suprovat, Azmeri, BMK, Skyline and buses run on Route Number 7 – for running buses under contract system.
He said that they would continue to check city service buses and minibuses regularly.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police additional commissioner for traffic Mir Rezaul Alam said that as per BRTA statistics, there was a huge gap between the number of registered motor vehicles and the number of driving licences.
The number of registered motor vehicles all over the country is about 35 lakh against which only about 19 lakh people have driving licence.
He said drivers should be trained in training institutions.
Rezaul Alam said if the other authorities concerned, mandated to work on traffic system, performed well, metropolitan police’s work would improve automatically.

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