Speakers at a views-exchange meeting demanded encroachment-free footpaths and adequate zebra crossings to ensure free and safe movement of pedestrians especially the school and college-going students.
They said that there is not enough open spaces in Dhaka city. However, walking to school can meet the demand of physical activity of children and adolescents.
But many children are not encouraged to walk to schools due to reckless speed of vehicles, dilapidated condition of footpaths, lack of zebra crossings, illegal parking on footpath and lack of safe environment for walking, they said.
Against this backdrop, the speakers demanded adequate zebra crossings and encroachment-free footpaths in the city to ensure safe walking environment for the safety of the children.
South Point School and College, AstraZeneca, Pallima Sangsad, Civil Rights Protection Forum and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust jointly organised the views-exchange meeting on ‘Role of Parents in Controlling the Non-communicable Diseases’ at the Malibagh branch of South Point School and College in the capital on Saturday (January 8).
Many parents of South Point School and College also raised the demand for adequate zebra crossings and encroachment-free footpaths to ensure safe walking environment for the children.
Chairman of Civil Rights Protection Forum Hafizur Rahman Moyna presided over the event and senior project manager of Ziaur Rahman moderated it.
Project Manager Naima Akter presented the keynote paper. Coordinator of South Point School and College Solaiman Kabir, guardians of students ATM Mashiur Rahman, Kazi Sohel Rana, Afroza Akhter and others also took part in discussion.
The speakers at the meeting said that many people lean towards private vehicles due to the lack of safe walking environment in Dhaka city. As a result, traffic jam, pollution and accidents are increased.
Although most of the people in the city travel on foot, the travel environment becomes more unsafe for the people. There is a shortage of fields and parks in the city. Walking to school can be a means of physical activity for students. However, they are being deprived of this opportunity due to lack of healthy environment, said the speakers.
The speakers also said that the students who travel in cars and stuck in traffic jam for a long time are under a lot of stress. Negative effects on physical and mental health also increase the risk of non-communicable diseases.
Some of the speakers said that at present children are addicted to unhealthy food. One of the reasons for this is the attractive packaging of this type of food. Not only is the consumption of this type of food bad for the body, the excess plastic pollution is also extremely harmful to the environment.
Considering the welfare of the future generation, it is necessary to refrain from consuming soft drinks, fast food, junk food and packaged food.
The guardians also said that the city authorities of developed world are now focusing on creating a healthy environment for walking and cycling considering various benefits.
The school has charter so that the students can walk safely. If such activities are taken by the Dhaka city authorities, the city dwellers will benefit and safety will be ensured for the children and teenagers to walk to school.