A word from the Editor-in-Chief: A question of civics

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, May 18th, 2017
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The cabinet has approved the draft Cantonments Act 2017, making it a punishable offence for people to beg or indulge in behaviour not conducive to social norms and the like inside the country’s many cantonments. It is a welcome development and we wholeheartedly believe such measures toward maintaining discipline in the cantonments will serve as a pointer to what could be done elsewhere in the country, especially in the urban regions.


The draft act that has been approved by the cabinet now impels us into suggesting that similar steps be taken in the matter of all urban areas. In other words, our cities and towns, all of which are these days heavily congested in terms of a growth of population, should also be brought into focus where a disciplined, neat way of life is concerned. Any discussion of discipline in the cities and towns must begin with the way traffic on the roads is controlled. In these past many years, we have noticed, particularly in the capital, the stealthy ways in which control of road traffic has gone back to the old ways, that is, a manual handling of the movement of vehicles and people. There are yet the traffic signal lights in existence, but they are as good as non-existent. The result is chaos, with traffic control in the hands of traffic police who take it upon themselves to decide how long a part of a road intersection can be kept immobile or can be opened to movement.


Such a situation must be rectified if Dhaka is to be considered a modern city. At the same time, measures must be in place for citizens to be educated in civic behaviour. There are the many instances of spitting, urinating and other instances of behaviour which can only leave us all embarrassed. Again, the degree of jaywalking people resort to, despite the presence of expensively built foot overbridges and underground passes, is a bad eyesore. Nowhere is there a modern city — and we only need to take a look at our neighbourhood in South Asia — where people are allowed to cross streets or walk along roads in the carefree way they do in our urban centres. This situation calls for strict discipline, to be enforced by the road traffic authorities. Penalties must be brought in where every instance of a misuse of roads is noticed.


Last but not least, the authorities must devise strict measures that will keep our pavements free of impediments. Tea stalls, cars, motorcycles and other such hindrances generally are a hindrance to citizens’ movements. Penalties must also be brought in here.


Let the Cantonments Act 2017 serve as food for thought where enforcing discipline and order in civilian areas is concerned. We trust the relevant authorities will take notice.

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