Friday, 21 January, 2022

Culture of road blockade must go

Sufferings of commuters knew no bound as they remained stuck in hours-long gridlock in the entire city due to sudden road blockades in Tejgaon and Uttara areas on Saturday. Students of the Bangladesh University of Textiles blocked the thoroughfare in front of their campus and footpath hawkers put up the barricade on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway to press home their demands. Virtually, the city traffic came to a standstill for three hours after the incidents. However, luckily, at one stage, both the students and the hawkers lifted their blockades following interventions by the police and the lawmaker of Dhaka-18 constituency.

It is not an uncommon experience for Dhaka residents as they have been facing similar situations off and on. RMG workers' road blockade demanding arrear salaries and allowances is a regular phenomenon in the city. Shahbagh intersection is located in the heart of the city. Students or professional groups use this busy intersection to fulfil their demands by creating road blockades. As a result, the entire traffic system of the city gets collapsed. But, a question remains as to why agitating workers, students, professionals or others will have to take to the street for realising their demands much to the sufferings of the commuters. The simple answer is that they remain unheard until and unless they resort to the extreme measures.

In a healthy society, it is a common practice to give a patient hearing to the demonstrators once they put up their demands publicly. Even if a single demonstrator stands on the street with a placard, he/she is given due importance and  representatives of relevant authorities meet him/her immediately to hear his/her grievances with due consideration. In contrary, no attention is given to hundreds of demonstrators in our country when their demonstration remains peaceful enough. The authorities concerned come to senses when their demonstration turns violent. But this should not be the norm. Such unhealthy culture must go once for all. Agitators have a right to bargain. So, they should be given an opportunity to ventilate their grievances to the authorities concerned before time runs out. Then and only then the commuters will get rid of the recurring untoward situation.