• Monday, Nov 19, 2018
  • Last Update : 07:29 pm

We are all on the same side

  • Published at 05:31 pm August 3rd, 2018
Protesters
File photo of students protesting for road safety MD Manik/Dhaka Tribune

The students have made a display of admirable civil action. But it is important not to stray into vigilante territory

Nobody wants to see the deaths of more innocent people in road accidents -- not the public, not the government.

The protesters who have flooded the streets demanding change are justified -- we have editorialized many times about the need for safety measure on our roads, about holding bus companies and bus drivers accountable, of the need for strict enforcement of existing traffic laws.

It is heartening to see so many young people passionately engaged with this issue, and we fully understand and sympathize with what the protesters stand for.

To that end, it is important for the authorities and protesters to join hands and realize that they are on the same side, and are not each others’ enemies -- dangerous roads hurt us all, student, office-goer, or VIP.

It is also important to understand that a movement cannot become open-ended. This movement has already booked impressive results: The offending driver and owner have been arrested, a minister has apologized, relevant laws have moved for review.

Changes in the law cannot happen by tomorrow or even next week. Surely, students cannot expect to be manning the streets for the weeks it may take for a law to be amended?

Demands need to be both reasonable and practicable. And the authorities must be given time to act on them.

The students have made a display of admirable civil action. But it is important not to stray into vigilante territory. This new generation of activists can do more good now by keeping public awareness high on this issue -- without undue disruption to public life -- and to continue with their civic engagement, on this issue and others.

The government in turn needs to show palpable good faith and active movement on issues that the general public has shown support for.

Too many times in the past, assurances of improving laws or conditions have fallen by the wayside.