Banditry on the highway
When the government vociferously claims that the law and order situation is better than ever before, we find the realities on the ground presenting an entirely different picture. Criminalities are engulfing ever newer pastures with an increasing vengeance, the latest case in point being the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, thanks to an investigative staff item.
This principal highway between the capital and the port city, with all its business and trade connectivity ramifications is being preyed on by hijackers, robbers and extortionists. They are making a killing.
The stark impunity stems from an acute lack or laxity of highway patrol. Where there is highway patrol or local arrangements for police surveillance these would get compromised, going by allegations of truckers and their associations.
The toll taken by robbery of construction materials includes dampening productivity of the steel mills outside Chittagong. It is not a single item-centred piracy, though; in fact, a whole range of export and import commodities are targeted by the robbers. Add to the plunder, harassment and extortion taking place at certain points of the highway. Since the vulnerable segments of the highways are all known, why these can't be secured for the passage of the trucks with effective police intervention?
The serious implications of such disruptions on the highway do not apparently dawn on the government. The foremost consequence of such banditry is increase in the cost of business which leads to depressing investments. Secondly, the prices shoot up due to obstructions along the supply lines with the consumers suffering the most. Moreover, image of the country takes a severe blow at a time when investment climate for the neighbouring or nearby countries is brightening. We are losing out on business competitiveness, a fact, government must be seized with to stop all kinds of lawlessness on the highway. It is an easily manageable length of highway we are talking about and all that is needed is bringing the issue to the fore of our government's consciousness level and acting to match the concerns.
The various associations have threatened to go on strike foreshadowing a business standstill, the government must do everything in its power to avert. Their grievance that no measures have been put in place despite constant reminders, need now to be heeded.