City corporations, police, and Rajuk need to pay attention
Recently there have been a lot of opinions expressed at public meetings and in the media about making the environment better, the roads cleaner and safer etc. Sadly, nobody seems to listen.
Roads and pavements and cleanliness
Some of the improvements made a few years ago were the pleasant walkways alongside the lakes of Banani, Gulshan, and Baridhara. The walkway on the Banani side of the lake encouraged people to walk there, not along the busy and often dangerous Road 27.
The DNCC has repeatedly said that hawkers blocking pavements are going to be moved so that pedestrians do not have to walk on the roads. Little has been done in this regard.
The DNCC authorities and the Banani Society should look at what has happened to the walkway on the Banani side of the lake. Building materials block the way in different places, but the main offenders are rickshaws -- up to 100 at times -- parked there with even a repair facility. I wonder who is earning illegal rent money. It is both outrageous, and very sad.
It is expected that the Banani Society should galvanize the commercial establishments and residents to be more conscious of cleanliness, and not to throw rubbish anywhere.
Why cannot people learn from the cantonment area and the different DOHS areas which are markedly cleaner than Gulshan and Banani? In some places in DOHS, signs are up saying: “No overtaking, no horn, no litter.”
If one goes into Baridhara DOHS, one wonders if they are still in the same city, it is so different and orderly! Is there no way that the DNCC can fine residents for causing the places to be full of rubbish?
Behaviour of drivers and lack of police action
A lot has been written that most of the drivers on the roads have never been properly trained or tested and may have fake driving licenses. Every day, one sees a lack of common sense and courtesy as far as driving is concerned, a great absence of patience.
And it is not only the drivers who are at fault; the pedestrians have no sense as well, and often seem to be embarking on suicidal road crossings. The traffic police hardly ever take the pedestrians to task.
However, what is most dangerous, as observed at the Gulshan-2 crossing, is the behaviour of motorbike drivers. When the traffic lights are red and pedestrians are crossing, motorbikes and bicycles go in any direction they choose as though they have a right of way everywhere.
The traffic police should come down heavily on the dangerous motorbike riders. They are death on two wheels! Also, a final question is, why on earth do the traffic police not catch more drivers (car, motorbike, CNG, bicycle) who all the time seem to be using mobile phones?
Commercialization of residential areas
A lot has been written in the media on this subject, but very little action has been taken. Even on the very busy link road, Road 27, Banani, commercial establishments have been allowed, even though traffic stopping at those places of business like grocery, medicine, or tyre repair will block the traffic.
And in a road off Road 27, there is Road 22, a dead-end road going to the lakeside. The tarmac road is about 20 feet wide, and there is a very narrow pavement on one side of the road only. There is, I believe, a Rajuk stipulation that commercial activities can only take place where the roads are at least 60 feet wide. There are a few commercial establishments already running on Road 22, and because of that, incoming traffic has no place to park.
Outside Plot 10, Shamsul Alamin Real Estate Agency, there are often, blocking half the road, three Range Rovers parked and sometime a Mercedes. Further up the road, on Plots 12 and 13, two apartment buildings have been joined as “York Hospital -- a Multi-Specialty Boutique Hospital.”
Which authority has given permission to open a hospital on a narrow road with no parking spaces? There is no way that a hospital should be opening in such a location. No government authority should have permitted a hospital to open in such a location.
Of very pertinent interest is the fact that years ago, the renowned NGO Acid Survivors Foundation had a small treatment and rehabilitation centre at the same place. In about 2013, they were told that their medical facility could not continue in a residential area, and so they moved into the Mirpur centre of the “Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP).”
Knowing that raises a lot of other important questions, too. And, in addition, apart from anything else, commercialization of residential roads means that the value, freehold or rental, of residential apartments goes down.
Julian Francis has been associated with relief and development activities of Bangladesh since the War of Liberation. In 2012, the Government of Bangladesh awarded him the ‘Friends of Liberation War Honour’ in recognition of his work among the refugees in India in 1971 and in 2018 honoured him with full Bangladesh citizenship.