Jaywalking continues on city roads, highways

Rashad Ahamad and Shahin Akhter | Published at 01:11am on September 07, 2018

It is not all about vehicles violating the traffic rules; it is also about jaywalkers on city roads and even on highways giving not a damn to traffic law.
Road safety experts blame lack of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and lax enforcement of laws for this reckless attitude leading to many fatal accidents.
Pedestrians are the highest in number among victims in deadly road accidents across the country.
People from all age and sex groups are seen to cross the busy Dhaka city streets amid traffic when in most cases footbridges are just a few steps away.
On busy Mirpur Road at Nilkhet, Dhaka South City Corporation has set up two footbridges within 200 yards for pedestrians but those facilities are rarely used.
The city corporation has even set fences under the footbridges on road divider so that people are compelled to use them but errant jaywalkers are often seen to cross the road working their way through the fence just below the footbridges.
A clothes trader, carrying his goods, was seen to cross the Mirpur Road under the footbridge close to Balaka Cinema Hall on Tuesday.
Three people also were seen to help him with his goods from east to west side while hundreds of vehicles were moving on the road.
The mother of a schoolboy was seen to cross the busy Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue at Bangla Motor, rising her right-hand and holding both her 13-year-old boy and his schoolbag on her left hand on Monday afternoon when the vehicles were moving fast.
A policeman stopped her while she reached the road divider and forced her to go back after verbal reprimand.
A Bangladesh Road Transport Authority mobile court fined 30 people at Farmgate within several hours on Monday where executive magistrate Sarah Sadia Taznin realised Tk 50 from each of the pedestrians for not using footbridge.
Another common scene in the capital is pedestrians crossing road where there is no zebra crossing and even talking over phones.
Not only barbed wire fence, the jaywalkers do not bother about five-foot high boundary walls set at different busy points of highways.
Avoiding footbridge over Dhaka-Aricha Highway at Hemayetpur of Savar, on the outskirts of the capital, people are seen to cross the busy highway jumping over two five-foot high dividers installed by the Roads and Highway Department to stop jaywalking.
Meanwhile, frustrated pedestrians allege that most of the footpaths in Dhaka city are not pedestrian-friendly as these are dilapidated and most often blocked with construction materials and hawkers.
Some of the footbridges are also not covered and pose a security threat.
‘It is very difficult to cross the busy city roads as zebra crossings are absent on many roads,’ points out Khaleda Parvin.
On August 10 afternoon, a five-year-old girl was killed and when a battery-run auto-bike hit her at Mireshrai under Munshignaj Sadar while she was crossing road.
According to Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s Accident Research Institute, at least 49 per cent of the road accidents involve pedestrians on both Dhaka city roads and local government and engineering department roads while the percentage was 42 per cent on national highways.
The prime minister on June 25 gave a set of directives including those to ensure use of zebra crossings and footbridges instead of risky crossing of roads, mandatory use of seatbelts by passengers while travelling and follow traffic signals.
Back in September 2011, the government formed an expert nine-member sub-committee headed by professor Md Anwar Hossian which prepared 52 short, mid and long term recommendations on road safety issue.
Some of the recommendations urge pedestrians to follow traffic rules, the authorities to prepare and distribute awareness leaflets among them and stress that footpaths are free from all illegal occupation.
Professor Md Anwar Hossian told New Age on Monday that in Bangladesh pedestrians have no rights at all as there were huge gap in infrastructure facilities meant for the pedestrians.
He urged the authorities to include traffic rules in textbooks in primary level.
ARI assistant professor Kazi Md Shifun Newaz said that law enforcers should enforce laws strictly if pedestrians violated rules.
Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust programme manager Maruf Hossain said according to their survey in the capital on about 97 per cent roads there were no facilities for pedestrians.
In the world the transport policies mainly were pedestrian-first which was just the opposite here in Bangladesh, he noted.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police additional commissioner for traffic Mir Rezaul Karim told New Age that they took limited action against pedestrians as they had only one executive magistrate to prosecute the violators.
They engaged traffic police at the footbridges to compel pedestrians to use them, he added.
Deputy inspector general of highway Md Atiqul Islam said they distributed leaflets among pedestrians urging them not to cross highways illegally.
World Health Organisation’s Road Safety Report for the South-East Asia for 2015 says that Bangladesh accounted for 32 per cent pedestrian casualties in the region in 2015, preceded by highest 33 per cent of the Maldives.