Randomly parked vehicles are a nuisance that plague Dhaka’s streets. So much so, that sometimes only about a third of the street is available to traffic while the rest serve as parking lot.
Some such unofficial pockets have been cleaned out by Dhaka North mayor Annisul Huq to his credit. The Shatrasta intersection and Gabtoli are two such places that used to be perennially clogged with vehicles. Today vehicles pass through them like a breeze.
The city corporation’s endeavours to free up the streets filing cases against illegally parked by the side of main roads and streets have also been visible in recent times, all in a bid to make life on the streets easier. But the mayor’s latest pronouncement against those errant drivers sounds disturbing.
The Dhaka North mayor said errant drivers should be tied to the trees and handed over to the police. While there is no doubt illegal parking is a scourge on the streets and adds to the seemingly endless hours of traffic congestion, the mayor’s suggestion brings up images of brutal vigilante justice which too is a scourge.
Anyone stuck on the streets for hours would perhaps want to mete out even worse punishments for errant drivers, and it is all too evident with frequent road rage on display. But the mayor is not just anyone. A leading garment exporter, Annisul Huq has been a public figure for a long time as BGMEA president and then as FBCCI president. People of course know him from even before that, as a popular TV show host. And now, he is the mayor of Dhaka North.
When a mayor even hints at something that encourages people to take up the law in their own hands, the results could very well be disastrous, and not just for wrong parking. It also appears that the mayor’s rage is directed more towards the drivers than the owners of the cars who are essentially responsible for such behaviour on the part of the drivers.
Given the proven penchant for mob justice in Dhaka, such pronouncements have the potential to nudge people in the wrong direction which is, more often than not, a dangerous downhill race.