OPINION: Will the lawbreakers listen to the HC?
It’s hard not to punch your fist in the air and say ‘Yes!!’ when you read something like ‘HC move to stop wrong side driving in Dhaka’. Finally, someone is doing something about this preposterous level of highhandedness displayed by people who are either truly very important or think they are very important. But it doesn’t matter whether they are VIPs or wannabe VIPs – the fact is that no-one is so important that he/she has the authority to blatantly flout traffic rules by going on the wrong side of the road and risking the lives of people in the process. People have been killed or maimed by such acts of utter defiance of the law.
A Supreme Court lawyer filed a petition based on a photograph published in The Daily Star that showed a vehicle belonging to a Very Important Person going on the wrong side of the road. This paper, in fact has been relentlessly publishing these photographs – flag bearing, non flag bearing, cars belonging to law enforcement agents, even public university buses (which have become the latest thugs on the road). Now even the police commissioner is saying that they have video footage of offenders though he has expressed the force’s helplessness in the matter.
One is more than happy to note that vice chancellors of Dhaka University, Jagannath University and Jahangirnagar University, cabinet secretary, home secretary, education secretary, Inspector General of Police (IGP), BRTA chairman, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) commissioner and deputy commissioner (traffic) have been made respondents to the rule.
The HC has asked the authorities to respond to their query as to why should not be directed to stop plying of vehicles on the wrong side of roads in Dhaka city. We don’t know how far this will go and whether this practice that is in complete violation of traffic laws will stop after this. By the way even today (May 5) one has had to witness at least three ‘official’ vehicles going on the wrong side of the VIP road.
One cannot give up hope though considering that the HC has been able to do many things that no other ordinary mortal has done. It has ordered investigation into the torture of students at schools, compensation for Jihad, the little boy who lost his life when fell into an open well, directed the government to recruit around 2,500 people who qualified as assistant teachers of government primary schools in 2012, asked the authorities to clear lakes and parks from land grabbers, asked the government to get formalin kits that work… the list of good deeds of the HC is quite impressive.
But this particular order will, no doubt, resonate with thousands of city dwellers, who have had to sweat it out in the sweltering heat, waiting for the roads to clear for hours on end, as they watched helplessly the VIP vehicle and its entourage breezing away on the wrong side of the road assisted by the law enforcers on duty. Even if these ridiculously important persons (RIPs) continue to get away with their arrogant street manners, at least somebody has had the gumption to take them to task. At this point, you just want to clap your hands and go ‘Yippee Yay!’