The tendency to defy traffic law on part of the pedestrians and commuters of the capital is the biggest obstacle to maintaining discipline and ensuring safety on streets in this mega city of more than 15 million people. Urban planners say if the people spontaneously abide by traffic rules the long-awaited and desired discipline might be restored on the ever-chaotic streets of Dhaka.
If the foot over bridges, footpaths and zebra crossings of the city were regularly used, the unending traffic congestion on the streets would have lessened drastically, they opine. In a bid to make the pedestrians of the capital the traffic department has now resorted to counselling after all its sincere efforts made earlier failed to bring in any notable outcome in this regard.
Gulshan Traffic Zone under Dhaka Metropolitan Police has introduced the innovative initiative of an hour-long counselling session for the pedestrians violating traffic rule by crossing the road on foot instead of using the foot over bridge. According to traffic sources, it is not a tough job to make the reckless drivers follow traffic rules. But road safety cannot be ensured at all, no matter how sincerely you try, without bringing the huge mass of jaywalkers and commuters termed ‘public’ under strict discipline.
Traffic officials said at the counselling session they are informing the pedestrians that if the ongoing one-hour session fails to bring the desired results, then daylong, and if needed weeklong, sessions would be arranged in near future for the city dwellers for violating traffic rules. “We are telling the pedestrians that without their active support, we would never be successful in bringing discipline to the streets; that the procession of accidental deaths on roads would never end,” said top traffic officials.
During a spot visit on Tuesday afternoon at the busy Mohakhali crossing in the city, it was seen that a number of jaywalkers who tried to cross the street ignoring the nearby foot over bridge are being taken to the office of assistant commissioner of Gulshan Traffic Zone at Banani. At the office, the pedestrians were at first treated with tea and snacks. Each of them were provided with a booklet describing traffic rules.
Most of the jaywalkers, however, were reluctant to take part in the session. All of them were trying to dodge the session showing various excuses. One said, “Sir I would miss the train, the ticket is already bought”; while another argued that he was scheduled to visit a doctor. In reply, the police officials politely said, “You have been brought here for violation of law. Drink the tea first, then read the booklet. If a police super can wait for you despite heavily busy schedule, why can’t you spend an hour?”
After a while Deputy Commissioner Prabir Kumar Roy and Assistant Commissioner SM Mainul Islam entered the room. After preliminaries, Prabir conducted an hour-long counselling session with 40 traffic rule violators. Prabir Kumar said now we are taking hour-long counselling sessions. “If needed, we would arrange daylong or weeklong session in future. There is not alternative to awareness to get positive results in anything.” “All the police members involved in the initiative are working day and night for road safety. Besides strict enforcement of traffic rules, we also assist the elderly, autistic and pregnant people to cross the street.