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Restoring discipline to the roads

  • Published at 06:02 pm September 6th, 2018

It’s a pity that Mayor Annisul’s plan never saw the light of day

After a hurried and less fanfare-driven traffic week -- or 10 days to be more precise -- we are to be served with another fortnight of the same, during which police will seek to mop up the remaining vehicles that are merrily jaunting the streets of Dhaka. 

Obviously, there’s a secret tussle that we’re not aware of. The transport owners’ association have been tight lipped, as vehicle after vehicle is found and fined for not having up-to-date papers, and accumulated fines run into crores -- albeit in those seven days. 

Previously, most of the traffic rule ire used to be focused on rickshaws for multi-overtaking and creating lanes where there aren’t any. Getting us pedestrians to toe the line is a different matter altogether. 

The sight of a female guide having to physically prevent a gentleman from crossing the road without using a foot over-bridge wasn’t a sight for sore eyes; nor should it be. Gentlemen (and ladies) know very well they’re in the wrong especially when they guide their rickshaws and CNGs down the wrong side of the road. 

It’s a lack of civic sense at its height, just as the queues are for buses straying on to roads, the exhortation for such buses to stop anywhere and everywhere in the absence of proper bus stops and docking points, and of course, the legends that we all love and which police would rather see off the roads.

In all of the drives so far, media hasn’t made much of the legunas that run with young minds at wheels with no licenses in their pockets and number plates painted, rather than the official chip-enabled BRTA issue. Tickets? On legunas? Stuff of nonsense! 

For most of these vehicles are rumoured to be owned by those used to parading the corridors of the powers that be, and a vital cog in what is officially acknowledged as the “unofficial” economy. And no sooner than police have raised the issue, social media is rippling with the unfairness of not considering the plight of the commuters that depend on cheaper forms of transport. 

The point isn’t illogical. They rent enough public transport to carry the daily commuter and till rapid transit transport and a sensible and defined bus system is in place, the mayhem will continue. 

The madness with which private vehicles, motor cycles, and CNGS are being allowed to run on roads that were never meant to carry such traffic is exacerbated by the VIP sticker-carrying vehicles, giving rise to the theory that there are more vehicles than people who that really need them. 

It’s a pity Mayor Annisul Huq’s transport plans never really saw the light of day. The Dhaka-Chaka buses have contributed to easing some of the mess that Gulshan traffic is, and the efforts of Gulshan and Banani societies to restrict rickshaws in a welcome zoning exercise has been as effective. 

In the best of cities, “hop on hop off” buses and trains allow smooth movement of commuters from junction to junction, the difference being the penchant that everyone is willing to walk. With the footpaths and pavements contributing as another vital cog to the “unofficial” economy, Dhaka and major city commuters are caught in between a rock and a hard place.

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.