DhakaTribune
Saturday July 22, 2017 04:30 AM

A stitch in time

  • Published at 05:43 PM April 21, 2017
  • Last updated at 02:53 PM April 22, 2017
A stitch in time
Time is money /BIGSTOCK

Our government is as good at procrastinating as the rest of us

Since my childhood, I always was a mediocre student. I didn’t study all year long, only to rush before the exams. A month before the exams, I used to dive into my studies in such a way that my parents wouldn’t see me for a couple of days.

This habit of mine didn’t take me far enough to be highly successful in life.

On the other hand, many of my friends used to study throughout the year and they didn’t have much of a struggle before the exam; they could achieve good results quite easily. I had to toil more than them as I never cared for the age-old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine.” I always had to run behind.

I have a strong feeling that Bangladeshi authorities are a bit like I am. They never do their work on time and that’s why they are always after that nine.

Take Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), for example. In its latest move, only three days after the launch, it has decided to halt the drive against the Seating Service and Gate Lock Service in Dhaka’s public buses for 15 days. They now want to hold a meeting with the owners of the bus services, in the face of fresh demands from them.

The BRTA’s intentions for stopping the Seating and Gate Lock services are right, as the bus owners were charging the passengers extra fares in the name of these services. However, this practice has been continuing for ages. The BTRA didn’t take any measures when the bus owners started these services.

After almost two decades, the BRTA now wants to stop these services. This is a classic example of not doing the task in time.

Look at what the coronary stent traders have come up with. They had gone into an indefinite strike, following the government’s announcement for settling on standard rates for this precious medical equipment. Cardiac treatments using this equipment, and the business related to this have been going on for the last two decades.

The angioplasty and stent implant procedures on cardiac patients have come a long way in Bangladesh.

But it was just the other day that the government had tried to fix anomalies as far as the prices of the stents are concerned. What was the government or its monitoring agencies doing all these years? Perhaps, nothing.

The best example of not doing our tasks in time is, perhaps, building our cities. Almost all the big cities are now suffering due to faulty urban planning

With the stent suppliers going on an undeclared “strike,” the cardiologists had faced a serious crisis of stents while performing these procedures on patients.

This had put heart patients’ lives at stake and held them hostage. The situation had stunned almost everybody. Here’s another classic example of not stitching in time, and losing nine.

The best example of not doing our tasks in time is, perhaps, building our cities, along with the traffic situation. Almost all the big cities are now suffering due to faulty urban planning and choking — becoming one of the most unhealthy traffic situations in the world.

Our rivers are now full of chemical poisons, our pavements have been grabbed by makeshift sellers, and our buildings don’t have any parking spaces.

But we would have had time to prevent all the problems and sufferings if we had the vision to foresee all this and had taken measures in time.

We allowed our drivers to break the traffic laws for a long, long time; we allowed our developers to construct without abiding by the building codes of the country; we allowed the transport owners to deploy unfit vehicles; and we allowed our policy-planners to keep fiddling with our system, headed for doom.

When we had realised all this, much time had passed by, and we’d arrived at a point of no-return.

At a point of no return, you need to take a U-turn to fix things; you need to unlearn all the anomalies that you’ve been practising. Now, whenever you try to fix all these, you’re bound to face serious opposition, because you didn’t do the stitching in time.

Remember how difficult it was to remove the tannery factories from the heart of Dhaka city? It took almost a decade to remove them. We’re not even sure how many years would pass by to recover from the environmental damages they had left on our land and the river.

The government offices should seriously think of this: A stitch in time always saves many in the future.

Ekram Kabir is a fiction writer.

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