‘999 will face more challenges at national level’
Prof Sadeka Halim
, acting dean of Dhaka University’s Social Sciences Faculty, however thought that providing 999 emergency services might prove difficult in case anyone calls to lodge complaints against someone influential.
“Also, service providers will get prank calls as well. But these issues cannot put a stop to the services.”
Discussing the helpline’s importance at the local level, she suggested creating a link between the control room and community police to ensure that services were provided as soon as possible.
“Because the service covers the entire country, I think the 999 will be facing more challenges. But I am hopeful that we will be able to overcome them,” Sadeka added.
‘Neighbourhood watch can come in handy too’
Addressing the Boithoki, Prof Anzam Ansar Bazu
of Dhaka International University said helpline 999 was a very important and timely initiative.
He also stressed on prevention of the service’s misuse through a public awareness campaign to ensure that people were properly utilising the service.
“Our main problem is urban planning and communication. We can launch a neighbourhood watch like the one in the US. Communication will become easier if we can introduce neighbourhood watch, like our community police,” Bazu said.
‘It needs a framework and a policy’
Speaking at the roundtable, Fire Service and Civil Defence Director General Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan
said no better platform to ensure emergency services was introduced in Bangladesh before.
Along with police, hospitals and Fire Service, he said, all other emergency services including electricity and gas related ones would have to be included in the array to truly turn 999 into a national service.
“Moreover, it needs a framework and a policy as well,” he said.
“The capacity of the Fire Service is increasing, while police are already in it. I think people will get better services if we can coordinate all of these,” Khan added.
‘Police will have to earn people’s trust back’
Taking queue at the Boithoki, Bangla Tribune’s Chief Reporter Udisa Islam
said it would be easy to provide and receive the emergency services if everyone knew how to use the helpline properly.
“I also hope this emergency service will not be city-centric,” she said.
Mentioning the distance people maintain from police for various reasons, Udisa expressed hope that the initiative and services would lessen people’s fear of police.
“Police will have to work on areas through which they will be able to earn people’s trust back, and we will cooperate with them,” she added.
‘999 is a milestone on the road to Digital Bangladesh’
Barrister Harun Ar Rashid
, deputy inspector general of police’s Telecom and Information Management (T&IM), said emergency helpline 999 was one of the main achievements and a milestone in building Digital Bangladesh.
He said they do not only transfer the caller’s information to police or the concerned authority for required services. “We also follow up. The police are no longer the same. The force saw many changes since the independence.”
Speaking about coordination at the community level, he said that the incumbent inspector general of police was a pioneer of community level policing. “He has created the structure of community policing at the grassroots level. On that basis, I may say that we already have a framework to coordinate and work with 999 services.”
Rashid added: “However, I would like to urge the service receivers to be a bit more responsible. Unnecessary calls should not be made to keep the hotline busy, which could delay the services, or worse, make them unavailable for those who really need them.”