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Uttara association backtracks on car ban after backlash

  • Published at 01:40 pm October 7th, 2019
web-uttara-sector 4
The entrance to Uttara Sector-4, where a welfare association comprised of local home owners had banned the use of vehicles without stickers recently Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

DNCC mayor claims ignorance despite being resident of the area

The Uttara Kalyan Samity Sector-4, a welfare association comprising local homeowners, has walked back its plans to impose a ban on vehicles after a furor on social media and widespread ignorance among government agencies authorized to issue such regulations.

As per the law, only law enforcement agencies and a designated authority to regulate, restrict and discipline public vehicular movement can make such ban.

But, without taking any approval from the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) or the police, the association issued a letter to 26 educational institutions and all commercial establishments in the area, asking them to obtain the stickers from the association, warning that vehicles will not be allowed in the neighbourhood otherwise.

The September 24 letter, signed by General Secretary Kamal Hossain, reads that a vehicle has to be registered with it and obtain a sticker for Tk500.

The registration requires residents and non-residents to provide their names, address, mobile numbers, national identity cards and other essential documents.

What does the association have to say?

Major (retd) Anisur Rahman, president of the association, told Dhaka Tribune that not notifying the authorities concerned was a communication gap.

He claimed: “Crime has gone up lately. Residents approached us with their concerns and the association proposed this system which is already used in DOHS and Cantonment areas to restrict external vehicles.”

He claimed General Secretary Kamal Hossain was asked to inform the mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation for his approval, but did not do so.

 “Since the mayor and the other authorities are unaware of it, we have decided to suspend the plan for now. We will speak to the mayor and the deputy commissioner of police upon return of our secretary general.”

Major (retd) Anisur also claimed the decision was taken for the safety of the local citizens, not to harass anyone.

When contacted, Ishak Miya, security commander of Uttara Kalyan Samity Sector-4, told Dhaka Tribune they did not receive any official orders, only verbal instructions to prevent vehicles without stickers from entering the neighbourhood starting November 1.

He also claimed that security measures have gone up, and more CCTV cameras will be installed, even though the entirety of Uttara Sector-4 is covered by CCTV surveillance.

Several executive members of the Uttara Kalyan Samity Sector-4 said that even though Uttar Sector-4 is a residential area, commercial enterprises have popped up in huge numbers, leading to traffic jams.

Mayor, police unaware

When asked, DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said he is unaware of any such decision despite being a citizen of the area.

“I have no knowledge about this at all. Any association, before making any such call, shall consult with people and residents of the locality. If the public perception is against it, there shall be no such ban,” he said.

The mayor, citing his conversation with the association president, said the president is also unaware of the concept and plan of the ban.

When contacted, Afsar Ahmed Khan, councilor of ward no 1, offered a different take on Uttara Kalyan Samity Sector-4’s action.

He said: “A private organization cannot do that unless the mayor issues an official order.”

DNCC Chief Estate Officer Aminul Islam claimed that the association did not apply for any permission to issue the notice.

Prabir Kumar Roy, deputy commissioner of North Division (Traffic), Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told Dhaka Tribune the police are completely unaware of the ban, and that a private association lacks any authority to impose such rules.

Businesses, residents concerned

Several businesses told Dhaka Tribune their operations will be hampered if any such ban goes into effect.

Mostafizur Rahman, manager of a California Fried Chicken & Pastry Shop outlet in the area, told Dhaka Tribune they have yet to receive any official notice.

Hasan Mahmud, supervisor at Kasundi – a local restaurant, said the business would suffer and urged the association authorities to reconsider their plans.

Both Mostafizur and Hasan said the association has no legal right to impose such rules.

Various residents described the decision as ridiculous, saying the roads do not belong to the association. They also expressed consternation over speaking out against the ban, fearing reprisals.

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