Menace of errant Motorcycles  

Published: October 08, 2018 22:08:10 | Updated: October 10, 2018 21:44:26


Just over a week has passed after the end of a moth-long programme to bring discipline to the Dhaka roads. Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) launched the apparently all-out campaign with great hopes. Scores of city residents, including pedestrians, using the roads waited eagerly for positive results. To the great shock and disappointment of the city residents, as well as the authorities, the overall scenario shows few signs of any noticeable change in the traffic movement pattern. Even days into the start of the awareness-building campaign, recklessness in the driving of all kinds of vehicles, defiant jaywalking and many other menaces began creeping into the long overdue campaign. Needless to mention, the DMP campaign followed a weeklong countrywide student upsurge on the demand for safe roads. To the woes of many, with the campaign over, Dhaka's chaotic traffic has returned to its earlier state.

Upon an appraisal of the outcome of the spectacular campaign, lots of questions arise among the conscious sections of the citizenry. The most common of them is what prevents Dhaka from becoming a traffic law-abiding city. Merely half way through the law enforcement drive, the country's capital has failed to demonstrate its intent to embrace even the semblance of a tolerably working traffic system. In the meantime, a new menace appears to have reared its head during the campaign: law-flouting motorbikes. Movement of two-wheelers has long been a usual component of Dhaka's traffic scenario. But lately, with a sharp increase in their number, and their intimidating style of movement, motorbikes have emerged as a veritable terror to other vehicles.

According to an estimate of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the number of registered motorcycles in Dhaka in April, 2018, was 4,69,888, doubling from 2,10,081 in 2010. What makes the road users feel troubled is the induction of a large number of these two-wheelers into ride-sharing service. It started in 2017. Despite their contribution to speedy yet relatively low-cost travel of male commuters, most of them have already earned notoriety for their rash driving. It is natural that urban transport experts feel worried about their further rise in number.  During the traffic campaign, the motorcycles stood out with their ferocity and their compulsive tendency to break traffic rules. Thanks to their devil-may-care style of movement, often in groups, both smaller cars and other vehicles try to avoid being in their path. The road-crossing pedestrians dread them. Minor and fatal accidents involving motorbikes are now common occurrences in the capital.

Given the domineering role being wielded by the motorcycles, and their increasing ubiquity, many people are doubtful about the effectiveness of steps to rein them in. Motorcycles have, visibly, facilitated speedy movement of the middle-class people. But it's also imperative that they be brought under the ambit of a decent public transport system with no inordinate delay. Laxity in coping with the reckless motorcyclists on time is feared to add to the many traffic movement scourges already crippling the capital. Rash motorbike driving in Dhaka has not escaped the notice of transports experts. They have already started bracing for more anarchic times in the city's traffic movement with the unabated rise in errant motorbikes continuing. Optimists, however, do not lose heart. They emphasise the immediate start of brainstorming for a pragmatic solution to the problem. Due to their being a major component of Dhaka's traffic network, motorbikes deserve to be attached due importance. For it to happen, their movement must pass muster with people. 

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