VIPs without proper papers
A few months ago, we had observed that traffic police were checking and tracing cars driving from the opposite direction on VIP road. Government high-ups and other VIPs were found to be responsible for violating traffic laws on a whim. The on-going traffic week is also intended to check whether vehicles have relevant papers. Driving licences, fitness papers and registration certificates of cars plying the streets are vital and should be mandatory.
Agitated students, demonstrating on the roads for a couple of days to protest the killing of their fellow two students and for safe roads, also started voluntarily checking these papers. It was a matter of surprise when a police DIG's car was found without registration and his driver had no licence on him. Similarly, a BGB car and vehicles of certain influential people couldn't produce their driving licences and registration certificates when the students stopped these to check.
Though the job is that of the traffic police and this was merely symbolic checking by the aggrieved students, now we can easily assume that a section of government high-ups and other VIPs are breaking traffic laws day after day, they are making the roads riskier, and creating chaos for our traffic system. When VIPs are violating laws whimsically, that the general public will try to do the same is a given. The traffic police can't function properly due to people throwing around their influence on the roads, so the government should strictly address this malpractice of high-profile cars plying the roads without proper papers.
The kids are alright
The recent issue of Star Weekend was in most parts excellent as it brought different dynamics of the student protests to light.
However, the article titled “The Kids Are Alright” felt like the odd one out amongst all the good write-ups that this issue had. I could not grasp what the writers were trying to say. The gist of the overly dramatised article came down to: how unlivable Dhaka city is, where lives are very much disposable; how the kids came down to the streets after the tragic accident; how the protest invoked nostalgia amongst elders; how the protests got tarnished and misrepresented in the media; and somehow for these reasons, we failed the kids(?).
The article did bring forward issues which have plagued our society in recent times such as the extrajudicial killings, industrial murder and settler capitalism. However, it fails to connect these issues to the student protests. As if the students who came down to the streets risking their lives were not just a mere manifestation of aggrieved peers mourning their friends' death and demanding safer roads; the student protest was larger than that. By failing to make these connections, the authors reduced the gravity of the protest and thus nipped it in the bud.
University of Toronto
Can we deny our responsibility?
It is true that unlicenced vehicles and reckless driving are mainly responsible for road crashes in Bangladesh. We have already seen how students of schools across Dhaka have joined and protested this illegal practice of law breaking. A huge movement carried by school students got a massive response within and outside the country.
We, the masses, are somehow responsible for the accident, and we can't deny our responsibility on this serious issue. Seeing unlicenced or unfit vehicles, have we ever refused to get on it? What about informing this to the authorities concerned? Isn't that our duty as citizens? How many of us really care about the speed while driving?
Pedestrians frequently walk on the roads and cross unsafely in order to save time and also because footpaths are occupied by hawkers and small shopkeepers. Using foot over bridges or underpasses have never been monitored strictly. Using cellphones while driving—we all know the rules, but how many of us care to follow it?
How do we ride on a public bus, seeing that the driver is under 15 years of age? How do we let these public buses go overloaded without caring about road safety and risk to passengers?
How can many of us sometimes encourage drivers to drive fast in order to reach our destination early?
Rifat Munir Eti