How the police boxes came into being may be quite intriguing -only more so because of the sponsors' renewed interests in the construction of those. Their utility cannot be denied in a city that is perhaps the most chaotic on this planet. There is no point asking on-duty members of the law enforcement agencies and traffic police to look for an undesignated shelter from elements particularly when the weather is hostile. But the way these are coming up right on the islands, footpaths and on vacant spaces of one or the other side of intersections of roads simply questions the wisdom of those behind selection of their locations.
What could be a gift of generosity as a reward for thankless job, has in fact turned into a means to spinning money. As many as 350 of those boxes have been set up all across the city so far. More are in the process of springing up soon unless the authorities take a strong stand against the shady lucrative deals involved. It is bewildering to know that none of those has any approval from the city corporations. Reportedly, a few ad firms take verbal consent from traffic sergeants deployed in a particular area and construct the boxes. Most of those are used by law enforcers but some are never used. Local hoodlums abuse those.
The idea that tired on-duty traffic police will get some much needed rest under the shelter looks good but the driving force behind the apparent welfare for the traffic police or law enforcers is an ulterior motive of unauthorised commerce. They are constructed only to rent to different companies or business ventures for promoting products or services. Illegally constructed, these police boxes not only obstruct views of vehicles or pedestrians coning from alleys or sideways but also hinder movements of pedestrians. The one constructed on the footpath right in front of the building housing the wounded war veterans at College Gate, Mohammadpur forces people to get down on the road from the footpath and negotiate the way through traffic.
Although there is a permanent structure used as a police box for long in the corner of Khamar Bari, at Fram Gate on both sides of the foot overbridge, police boxes have been set up. These are hardly used. There is little doubt that like many such structures these two stand as an eyesore. Like the billboards, their ugly presence right at the eye level presents a disturbing sight. Already this city is ugly enough, there is no need to turn it uglier by illegal police boxes. If the law enforcers need it, let it be constructed by the city corporations on suitable and strategic sites not in places that is improper from the traffic safety point of view and also on aesthetic consideration.
The authorities are turning a blind eye to the craze of police box construction. Why they are doing so is better known to them. If they think that it does not cost them anything, they are wrong. The sponsors are building them and renting those illegally by using city space. This is a crime. They are making money without paying anything to the government exchequer. In the guise of supporting the police, they are in fact conducting an illegal business. Those using the boxes for advertising products and services have also become a party to the illegal business. The law enforces have also been duped into it rather in an intriguing way.
Now is the time for the authorities to announce 'thus far and no further'. The police boxes should be removed or demolished in order to bring an end to this notorious ad business. The sooner it is done the better. At the same time there is need for bringing the organisers of such boxes to book for their illegal use of city corporations' space.
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