Thursday, 29 September, 2022

Ubiquitous Poster Menace and Flyovers

Abdul Mukith

The menace of poster-pasting is ubiquitous in our capital city. Posters of all sizes and colours are pasted everywhere as tools of publicity or advertisements for different groups, individuals and organisations. We will find posters of political parties, their leaders, private companies and movie producers attached on walls. As the government has constructed flyovers to ease the traffic congestion in the capital, these publicity-mongers are not sparing those from defacement. The pillars of the flyovers have now turned into canvas for non-aesthetic displays and free advertisement. Political leaders and private companies deface pillars of the flyovers with posters and political graffiti. While the political party leaders encroach on the pillars either to come to limelight or draw attention of party high-ups, different organisations do so to promote their products. Even there are posters promoting different movies. While travelling under the flyovers, we can see that all the pillars have been plastered with posters. There is no space left. According to a report published in the Daily Sun early 2020, the name plaque of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Moghbazar-Mouchak Flyover was also not spared. The posters of a political leader fully covered the plaque installed marking the inauguration of the flyover. The situation gets worse during any election when there are multiple rises in the number of posters. Posters cover all the pillars of the flyovers apart from hanging from rope. There is also a new concern of plastic laminated posters. Such posters, which are harmful for the environment, can be seen across the city, displaying faces and electoral symbols of candidates.

Ads of almost all the products can be found on the flyover pillars. Posters are advertising dental treatment to sex treatment, homeo treatment, electronic goods, educational institutions, coaching centres and drug addiction treatment. There are also obscene cinema posters, employment notices of garment factories and greetings from political party leaders apart from ‘to-let’ notices. Though the law prohibits the pasting of posters in wherever one wants and there is a High Court directive in this regard, the menace continues unabated for lack of action against the perpetrators. No action is taken against those who attach posters violating the law, which encourages the offenders to continue the illegal activities. The political parties might have differing principles but they have no difference when it comes to defacing public spaces. Leaders of political parties, especially ruling Awami League, Bangladesh Chhatra League and Jubo League, are pasting posters on the flyover pillars. Private companies are also hanging advertisements on the pillars to promote their products. They paste posters violating the Graffiti Writing and Poster Sticking Control Act, 2012 and a High Court directive.

According to the law, no writing or poster can be put up anywhere, except designated places. If anyone does so, the authorities can fine him/her highest Tk 50,000 or jail him/her for maximum 30 days. Besides, they can ask the offender to scrape off the posters at his/her own cost. On November 2, 2016, the HC asked Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) to remove banners and festoons immediately after these were pasted on various roads, footpaths and road islands of the capital. It directed the two city corporations to continue their activities to remove all unauthorised billboards, posters, banners and archways, and wipe out all graffiti on walls in areas under their jurisdiction. On March 18, 2012, the HC delivered an interim order to remove the unauthorised posters, banners and archways. On August 18, 2015, it ordered the two city corporations to remove all the unauthorised posters, banners and archways, and wipe out all writings on walls by August 22.

Although the two city corporations occasionally remove posters and banners on their own, they do not take any legal action against the perpetrators of such acts. They say they cannot control these illegal activities for lack of manpower. And for lack of strict enforcement of the law and the HC directive, the poster menace goes on unabated, hurting the Dhaka city. These posters are ruining the beauty of the capital city, which does not have a good look at all due to the unplanned growth. This is also a visual pollution, which impairs city dwellers’ ability to enjoy a view and causes mental disturbances for them. Being covered by posters, the flyover pillars stick out like a sore thumb and serve as an eyesore.

Steps should be taken to free the flyover pillars from poster-pasting menace as those are robbing the city of whatever beauty it has and making the flyovers look awful. After freeing the pillars, those can be given a makeover. Initiative can be taken to decorate the pillars with artworks of renowned artists. The authorities concerned can do it by themselves or look for sponsors for it. Social and cultural organisations can also voluntarily come forward in this regard as we see it even in our neighbouring country India. They can turn the city’s public spaces into their canvas and paint flyover pillars to beautify the city. There can be attractive abstract designs in bright colours and slogans to raise awareness among people on various issues. Flyover pillars can be a symbol of beauty and memorial to tradition, which will teach people human and moral education and imbue them with patriotism. These can be canvas for presenting country’s history, culture and tradition. Different aspects of the Language Movement, Six-point Movement, Mass Upsurge, Liberation War and historic 7th march Speech of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman can be displayed on the pillars. These pillars can be used for raising awareness about corruption, child marriage, health, eve-teasing, juvenile gang culture and drug menace. This will on one hand stop the poster menace and give the city an aesthetic look on the other hand.

Residents in Ghaziabad town of Indian Uttar Pradesh have transformed flyover pillars into a work of art to beautify the town as part of a cleanliness drive. They first removed numerous posters stuck on the pillars and then covered the pillars in primer to conceal stains and finally created an attractive design and painted it in bright colours. Slogans such as ‘Let our city be clean, with the participation of all’ and ‘We have decided to make Ghaziabad clean’ are also inscribed on the pillars painted by the volunteers. Similar initiative was taken in a number of other Indian cities like Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai. If this type of initiative can be taken in our capital, it will rid us of the poster menace and at the same time add beauty to the city giving the flyovers an aesthetic look.


The writer is Shift

In-charge, the Daily sun