Yet another traffic awareness campaign is underway in the capital. Starting on January 15, it will conclude on January 31. Like during such a campaign carried out by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) not long ago, this one also sees engagement of batches of youths for guiding vehicles and road-crossing pedestrians in following traffic rules. In over a week's time, the fortnight-long traffic programme has borne mixed results. Many are following rules, while errant motorised vehicles, especially buses and minibuses and motorbikes, are getting away with their defiant ways. On-the-spot fines and other punishments do not appear to have any sobering effect on the lawbreakers. Similar is the case with the compulsive jaywalkers, who are found crossing the busy roads despite footbridges close by. Blaming the personnel at the traffic division of the DMP wholesale for these scourges may not be rational.
Against the backdrop of the broader traffic situation in Dhaka, the causes of the maladies now appear to hinge on ethical questions. The tendency to flout traffic laws thus raises the issue of the deviant bent of mind among a section of road users. As a corollary, the imperative of abiding by law comes prominently to the foreground. The solution to the traffic chaos in Dhaka seems to have little scope for adopting options alien to this land. The ground reality in Dhaka calls for mundane and practical remedies. The traffic authorities can ill afford to skirt the traditional measures. Coming to the automated traffic signals, the system needs to be overhauled. Upon close scrutiny, the traffic authorities ought to work out a signalling system, be it automated or manually run, which may suit the road users. Given the pressure of the overwhelmingly increasing number of automobiles on the same old roads, the traffic signals' malfunction can hardly be avoided.
But vehicles, small or large, overshooting signals should be brought to book instantly. Stopping this menace requires deployment of increased numbers of police personnel at the busy intersections. And, naturally, it will call for recruitment of more efficient police personnel. Like the occasion of the earlier month-long traffic awareness programme, this one also comprises student volunteers from colleges and schools. Since these youths triggered the all-out campaigns for road safety in a street demonstration in August last year, their enthusiasm in streamlining traffic movement still remains intact.
In order to ensure that the city roads have been sufficiently disciplined, long-term and well-thought-out plans and projects have no parallel. The extent to which the road-anarchy in Dhaka has declined cannot be dealt with by putting in place ritualistic measures. However, young volunteers are supposedly morally pure. Their untiring efforts to compel vehicles to move on right tracks, stop competing with each other and picking and dropping off passengers on the mid-road played a significant role in the last month-long traffic disciplining campaign. But students cannot be brought to the road repeatedly. Meanwhile, the seasoned road users are eagerly awaiting the completion of the under-construction elevated metro rail. This new mode of transportation, along with the construction of the proposed subway routes and the start of all the feasible mass rapid transits are supposed to take away a lot of burden off the stagnant roads in Dhaka. Including a piece on road safety in the textbooks at the school level could also be of great help.
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