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A need for systemic change

  • Published at 12:04 am November 6th, 2019
Road Accident
Photo: RAJIB BHAR

There remain deeper issues that are not being addressed

A year after it was passed in parliament, the Road Transport Act, 2018 officially went into effect this week.

While it may be too early to make definitive comments regarding the new laws, and while the government deserves some credit for at least trying to bring some discipline to the roads of Dhaka, there remain deeper issues that are not being addressed.

For one, none of the laws look to address the problems of rash driving, street racing, and the overall culture of reckless driving prevalent in our society -- not just within our capital, but on our roads and highways throughout Bangladesh.

Instead, many of the fines focus on the drivers, whereas often enough, they are put into their roles without adequate training and knowledge, and fining them instead of the ones who put this inexperienced driver behind the wheel allows the real culprits to get away, and the problem to perpetuate.

Additionally, there is also a hefty fine on jaywalking, despite the pedestrians often being left with no choice due to the mishandling of traffic, the absolute disregard for the city’s traffic lights or zebra crossings, and no foot-over bridges within proximity.

Too often, we have seen those with power enjoy impunity; it remains a problem in virtually every facet of our society, and the new laws provide no confidence that those wielding this power and enjoying impunity will face any ramifications.

Therefore, while the new laws may bring some discipline to our streets, they do not address the deep-rooted issues that will continue unless there are systemic changes put into place -- ones that address road safety at the core instead of looking to paper over the issues.