Jaywalking - a blot on Dhaka's image

Shihab Sarkar | Published: July 28, 2018 22:20:23 | Updated: July 29, 2018 21:14:49


The recklessness found in people crossing busy roads is on a sharp increase in Dhaka. The city could soon emerge as a byword for habitual jaywalkers as found in many countries, especially those having little respect for law. Dhaka beats them all. It's unfortunate that another infamy is set to be added to this city's long stained image. Over the past decades, many past reputations of Dhaka's civic life have vanished. Many are on the verge of disappearance. A lot of notorieties remain. They are poised to strike in full force at the basics of Dhaka's urban identity.

The appalling way the Dhaka pedestrians have started crossing roads, some new urban-life coinages do not seem too far. People ought to brace for a Dhaka-specific phrase related to jaywalking. It may find a place in the global spoken English glossary. In the form of a verb it might go like 'to cross roads Dhaka style.' Coming to the gerund form, the usage like 'Don't follow the jaywalking of Dhaka' cannot also be ruled out. What prompts these premonitions come from day-to-day scenes in the Bangladesh capital. Passersby in this city cross roads whenever they feel like, and through whatever points they deem convenient. The city once had its designated strips on roads called 'zebra crossings'. They have long vanished. The pedestrians also hardly feel their need. Crossing roads has lately turned too easy. Be one a young or middle-aged man or woman, he or she just raises their arms before a speeding vehicle to go to the other side of a road. Who'll tell them that this is not the proper way, and that this is atrocious?

Similar to many other urban sectors, the one related to the use of roads by pedestrians is beset with scores of problems. They include absence of proper infrastructure, fund misuse, laidback attitude of the authorities towards alleviating public woes and a gross lack of accountability. That the road users could not yet to be guided or coerced into using the foot over-bridges after so many drives is incredible. The task, in fact, is not that arduous.

If the pedestrians are found compulsively defiant in not using the over-bridges, then it warrants stricter laws. Leniency or non-professionalism on the part of the law enforcers carries the potential for thwarting all disciplinary steps. In the veritably unwieldy Dhaka, people in general love to break laws. Those willing to see a law-abiding and hazard-free city are few. Many of today's younger generations might feel incredulous on learning that school students in Dhaka once were imparted lessons on safe road crossing. Accidents used to occur in those days, too. But few of those were caused by obsessive jaywalking. The pedestrians mostly were Dhaka-based and thus acquainted with the urban norms. The prevalence of rural migrants was negligible even three decades back. Nowadays, it is the fresh entrants to the big cities - both 'educated' and unlettered, who resort to hazardous jaywalking. Reckless manner of driving has also been a part of Dhaka's traffic reality. It was the terrible trucks which would dominate the Dhaka streets in the past. They have largely been replaced by rashly driven buses in the city. Jaywalkers mostly get crushed under the wheels of these vehicles. On the other hand, the whimsically road-crossing people cause hindrances to smaller vehicles like cars and auto-rickshaws.

 Lawless roads, chaotic vehicle movement and lax law enforcement are compounding the dreadfulness of reckless jaywalking. In fact, various types of irregularities and anarchy on the Dhaka roads have lately emerged as a combined evil. The incorrigibly law-flouting jaywalkers continue to aggravate the situation by sticking to their wild ways. They only bring disrepute for Dhaka.

shihabskr@ymail.com

 

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