There is no visible improvement in traffic management in the capital and other parts of the country although police have taken various measures to bring ‘discipline on roads’ following the student movement for road safety last year.
After the movement for safe roads, police conducted three traffic discipline weeks and a traffic discipline fortnight and are now observing another week to bring discipline on the streets and encourage people to follow traffic rules, but no significant change in traffic management has taken place.The death of two students in a road crash on July 29 last year triggered the countrywide student protest.
Many city dwellers alleged that traffic police officers were active in filing cases against motorbikes during the last traffic discipline weeks or fortnight but similar actions were not taken against other types of vehicles.
Statistics show that motorbike riders faced almost half of the traffic rules violation cases filed during the special programmes in the capital.
Sources said most of the buses running in the capital are in a dilapidated condition with broken windscreens, shattered windows, shabby seats and/or dents all over their bodies.
But, city dwellers alleged, traffic police are unwilling to ensure fitness of the dilapidated vehicles.
Traffic week was observed in the city from August 5 to 14 last year in the wake of the student movement for road safety.In the 10 days of traffic discipline week, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) filed 88,293 cases against various types of vehicle and fined them Tk 5.10 crore (51 million).
Almost half of the cases -- 43,863 cases -- were filed against the two-wheelers.
The DMP later launched several traffic awareness programmes.
It observed traffic awareness month during September 5 to 30, traffic discipline week during October 24 to 31 and traffic fortnight during January 15 to February 2 for strict implementation of the traffic law.
During the traffic fortnight from January 15 to February 2 this year, the DMP filed 112,558 cases against vehicles, including 47,522 against motorbikes, and fined them Tk 5.71 crore.
During the traffic discipline programme in September last year, offenders were fined around Tk 13.71 crore while 1.68 lakh cases were filed in the capital.
Police officials said failure to stop at traffic signal and produce valid documents and driving licences, not wearing helmets, and travelling against traffic were the top offences committed by motorcyclists.
Though police claimed traffic discipline is visible now due to the strict enforcement of traffic laws as well as continuous steps.
Dulal Mahmud, a resident of Azimpur area, said, “We have seen traffic awareness programme after the student movement for safe road. But the sad thing is that most of the time we have seen that traffic police remains busy with motorbikes.”
“Most of the time buses are the main culprit for road accidents as they continue doing race with others buses. But traffic police are seen reluctant to take action against buses,” he added.
Besides, most of the buses running in the capital have no fitness. But no one is here to check the unfit vehicles, he said.
Talking to the daily sun, SM Murad Ali, deputy commissioner of (Traffic South Division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said, “We are trying our best to bring discipline to the streets and encourage people to follow traffic rules. But in reality, habits of the drivers and pedestrians are not changed. I would like to say that we are forcing them to change their habits.”
“They are doing well as long as we are forcing them to follow traffic rules. When we are not on the road, they are desperate to break the traffic law,” he added.
Asked about the huge number of cases against motorbikes, he said, “Cases have been filed against motorbikes for various reasons, including invalid documents and driving licences, not wearing helmets and travelling against traffic.”
“We have not given any special attention to motorbikes or we have no target to file cases against motorbikes,” he added.
He also said, “Another thing is that the number of motorbikes is high compared to other modes of vehicles. So the number of cases against motorbikes is also high.”
He also said, “If we have filed cases for irrelevant purpose, then you can say about it. But every case was filed for valid reasons as motor bikers were the top traffic rules breaker.”
The traffic police official said due to the strict enforcement of traffic laws, most of the bikers in the city are now using helmets.
Rules violations by drivers, vehicle owners and even pedestrians contribute to accidents that claim several thousand lives every year.
DMP Additional Commissioner (Traffic) Mir Rezaul Alam said, “The Traffic Discipline Week will be observed every month as part of its initiative to continue improving the trend of traffic discipline in the city streets.”
Traffic discipline is visible now due to the strict enforcement of traffic laws as well as continuous steps and most of the bikers in the city are now using helmets, he added.