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Dhaka Tribune

Experts: Policy, enforcement of rules needed for traffic discipline

They also stressed the need for awareness campaigns and political commitment to restore order in the streets

Update : 13 Oct 2018, 10:23 PM

Strict enforcement of traffic rules and behavioural change of pedestrians and transport workers, as well as proper planning, are essential for a disciplined traffic system in Dhaka, say experts.

They think a vigorous media campaign and political commitment, alongside gearing up the decentralization process, are also needed to restore discipline on city streets, reports UNB.

Prof Moazzem Hossain of the civil engineering department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) said eight components -- policy, planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, enforcement and finally, monitoring -- will have to be ensured to bring discipline in the traffic system.

A footway network system also needs to be developed alongside automating the traffic signal network, he said.

Prof Moazzem, also director of Buet Accident Research Institute (ARI), underscored the need for bringing a radical change in the bus operation module. "Buses of 250 companies are plying the city streets. Globally, buses run under a single state-owned agency."

Ashish Kumar Dey, general secretary of the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways, (NCPSRR), said many, including bikers, auto-rickshaw drivers, young political party activists and a major portion of pedestrians, do not follow traffic rules properly, which is an obstacle to controlling the overall traffic management and reducing road crashes.

A continued awareness campaign and strict enforcement of traffic rules can bring discipline in the streets, he said.

The NCPSRR leader said transport workers' lifestyle should be enhanced. "If their wages and other facilities are not increased, a sense of dissatisfaction prevails among them and many drivers become desperate to earn more, leading to repeated road accidents," he said.

Shahidul Islam, general secretary of Dhaka Taxi-Taxi Car-Auto-rickshaw Drivers' Union, said drivers are yet to receive any training and motivation from any quarter. "It would have surely helped reduce road crashes, had drivers been trained and motivated."

A CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver has to give the owner Tk1,600-1,700 as a daily deposit against the government-fixed Tk600, while bus drivers run their vehicles on a target basis, he said. “This makes the drivers reluctant to obey traffic rules as they have to increase the number of trips to earn more.

"If the government ensures that owners are not charging more, the tendency of violating traffic rules among drivers will come down sharply," he said.

Meanwhile, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) observed a month-long traffic safety awareness campaign in September following widespread student protests triggered by the death of two college students on a city street in August.

During the campaign that ended on September 30, around 172,000 cases were filed and around Tk14 crore was realized as fines for traffic violations.

On the last day of the campaign, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said that despite the sincerity of traffic police to bring discipline to the streets, their attempts are not yielding results due to people's tendency to violate traffic rules.

"Though it is not possible to change habits and behaviour in just one month, we are hopeful that people will gradually abide by traffic rules," he said, urging city dwellers to cooperate with police in enforcing traffic rules.

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