From the Editor-in-Chief: The chaos on our roads

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, November 2nd, 2017
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The picture remains the same. Nothing changes. Even though we, citizens, would like Dhaka’s traffic mess to get straightened out and into a decent shape, nothing seems about to happen any time soon. Perhaps ours is the only national capital in the world where nothing moves, indeed where no efforts are expended toward correcting a bad situation on the roads. If anything, it appears that the problems related to the use of roads by citizens is getting more and more acute every day. That brings us to the question of how without a care many of us violate the rules of the road.


A few weeks ago, much was made of the fact that the police were penalizing people, some of them very powerful ones, for having their vehicles use the wrong side of the road. For a couple of days, people were happy, though there were the skeptics who let it be known that the show would soon come to an end. It was the skeptics who were proved right. The police checks have come to an end and those who drive on the wrong side have gone back to their old habits. And that is not all. A few days ago, a police sergeant was observed swerving his motorbike under the barrier put up for an incoming train to go by and moving on. Encouraged by this impatient policeman, some other bike riders followed suit. Now, if this is what a policeman does, what does one expect from citizens?


Speaking of citizens, they have not stopped the jaywalking they have got used to. The foot overbridges are close by, but they will not use them. They prefer running through moving vehicular traffic, sometimes even putting up their hands as a sign to approaching cars that they should stop and let them pass, to using the means at their disposal to cross the road. And then there are the buses, almost all of them rickety, which will stop anywhere and everywhere to drop and pick up passengers. The police stand and watch.


This is no way for a society to conduct itself. The traffic police authorities, in order to convince citizens that they can do their jobs, that indeed they can enforce discipline on the roads, must do whatever is necessary in this respect. A slack police force, whether it is there to maintain order on the streets or check crime, is an invitation to trouble and then disaster. Let that lesson be kept uppermost in mind. Everything else will follow.

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