Police unable to take action despite frequent accidents
High-speed driving by teenage drivers is creating havoc in the neighbourhood of Gulshan Avenue, one of the upscale areas of the capital.
The youngsters engage in drag racing on the wider roads including the Avenue to show off their driving skills from 10pm, and keep going till as late as 3am.
The nuisance becomes wilder on Thursday nights on different streets close to the Avenue, said residents.
In addition to high-speed racing, the sounds of their car engines revving, handbrake turns, and screeching brakes also pester locals who try to find some peace at that point of the night.
Expressing their fears, the locals say if these unsupervised activities are not dealt with strictly, it will lead to casualties any day.
On October 18 last year, Liyana Tripura Popy was killed when a reckless driving minor hit a rickshaw in Gulshan.
Popy, a 23-year-old student and a beauty parlour employee, sustained severe injuries and eventually succumbed to them.
The closed-circuit television camera showed that two SUVs—one white, and the other black—were trying to overtake one another during a drag race between the two.
Car races in the area came under public focus in 2015, when Fareez Rahman, nephew of former Awami League lawmaker HBM Iqbal, drove a car recklessly and ploughed into rickshaws, injuring four people, including two rickshaw pullers.
Civil society’s actions
How such car races can take place in such a “secure” area that houses a number of embassies is still a mystery.
According to Gulshan Society, a voluntary organization working for the wellbeing of the residents of Gulshan, car racing is a matter of concern as residents do complain about this, though not frequently.
“The racing takes place not only at Gulshan Avenue but on some inside roads too.”
“It particularly takes place at midnight as the patrolling to monitor these activities remains slim at the time,” Shayaan Seraj, convener of Civic-Utilities and Traffic Management of Gulshan Society, told the Dhaka Tribune.
Citing this wild racing as “very annoying”, Shayaan said the society will discuss with the police to introduce community policing at midnight, so that they can warn people not to engage in such activities.
Md Anis Uz Zaman, member secretary of Community Policing and Traffic Management Committee of Gulshan Society, said if there is any news on such racing, he circulates messages to different automotive groups requesting youngsters not to get involved in such activities.
“We always request people to drive responsibly,” he added.
“We also organize several events with automotive groups or car clubs where we try to raise awareness and ask participants to drive responsibly,” said Zaman, also a member of different leading car clubs.
There are instances when kids or teens take out the car at midnight when their parents cannot even get a chance to notice it, and in some cases they cause accidents, he pointed out.
“We request participants of different automotive events to not do any such thing.”
“Also, if we notice someone racing in Gulshan, I try to get to them first and convince them not to repeat such activities in the neighbourhood,” said Zaman.
Gulshan Society Executive Committee Member Shayaan said they have even noticed some cases where the drivers, who drive their cars deliriously, are as young as 14-15-year-olds.
He said they are planning to introduce road signs and different markings on the streets to raise awareness on road safety and stop such activities.
What is the police doing?
Car races are not exclusive to Gulshan as they also take place at Dhaka’s 300 feet, 100 feet, Hatirjheel, and sometimes in the Dhaka University area. However, the frequency is much higher in Gulshan.
Asked about the issue, Gulshan police station Officer-in-Charge SM Kamruzzaman, however, refuted the existence of any such activities under his jurisdiction.
“There is no chance of car racing in the Gulshan area,” he said.
“We regularly patrol different areas and it is impossible for anyone to race at night because of this,” claimed the police official.
However, another official at the Gulshan police station, requesting anonymity, acknowledged the car racing incidents and said most of these racers are children or teenagers.
“We had found some cases of accidents too,” he mentioned.
“But as many of these kids are from upper-class families or related to political figures, we are unable to take any actions against them because they somehow eventually convince the victims for settlement,” he said.
He also mentioned that it is tough for a police patrol car to chase the racing vehicles as they are much faster than the police ones.
“If we can catch any of them, all we can do is give a warning, hoping that these underage drivers do not repeat such incidents,” he further added.