Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Freedom after midnight

Traffic control system in the city falls asleep after 10pm leaving motorists at liberty when duty hours of traffic policemen end
Rizanuzzaman Laskar

A deserted traffic post at midnight. Photo: STAR
A deserted traffic post at midnight. Photo: STAR

The city’s traffic control mechanism is virtually switched off after 10:00pm when the traffic department of the Dhaka Metropolitan police (DMP) pulls out its officials from their stations leaving motorists in absolute freedom.
According to traffic police sources, working hours of the traffic police end at 10:00pm. After that the traffic mechanism of Dhaka solely relies solely on the traffic signals.
“The traffic police officers work in three shifts a day; the first shift starts at 6:00am and the last one ends at 10:00pm,” said an official at the traffic department of DMP.
“There are times when the duty hours may stretch up to midnight. That happens during special occasions or when the traffic conditions are really severe,” he said.
However, it is alleged the many traffic enforcers leave their posts well before their duty hours end, resulting in an unruly contest of breaking traffic rules among motorists.
While city motorists have grown accustomed to cruising past red lights in broad daylight, ignoring the stop signal is a common trend at night. For some motorists ‘red’ has become the new ‘green’ at many city intersections.
“The situation leaves maximum chance of fatal road accidents,” said a traffic officer adding “at other times the motorists cannot drive with freedom due to traffic jams and other reasons”.
To make matters worse, hundreds of heavy trucks and other commercial transports including inter-district night coaches enter the city in large numbers as they race with each other on the city thoroughfares.
“They [lorry and bus drivers] seem to be liberated from any traffic regulations and drive recklessly,” said Sadeque Hossain, a Malibagh resident.
“As my office is in Uttara, usually it is not before 10:30pm when I reach home,” he said, “and on my way back home almost every night I get firsthand experience of how unruly the lorry and bus drivers can be. And I never see any traffic police around.”
Most of these heavy vehicles are inter-district lorries and night coaches transporting goods and passengers to and from the capital. Fleets of lorries can also be seen carrying construction materials across the metropolis.
Hulking lorries and large pickups carrying rods with their long sharp thorny tips sticking out through the back of the vehicle is also a regular scene in the streets.
“You have to be extra careful when driving around the lorries carrying construction materials like rods. Even a split second late on the brakes may result in serious accidents,” said Akbar Hossain, a chauffeur from Green Road.
Besides, many rickshaws are seen paddling their way across the main roads.
With many traffic officials leaving their posts even earlier than the designated time, long queues are seen on almost all the major city thoroughfares in Mirpur Road, VIP Road, Panthapath, Gabtoli, Shyamoli, Moghbazar, Rampura, Mohakhali, Shahbagh, Mouchak and other points after nightfall with countless heavy vehicles lining up.
“Late night Dhaka is supposed to traffic free. But I face traffic jams almost every night in Manik Mia Avenue intersection, Russell Square, Dhanmondi road 27 and on the Mirpur Road between 10:30pm and 11:00pm on my way back home from my office at Gulistan,” said Mizanur Ahsan, a resident of Dhanmondi.
Heavy lorries, buses and pickups were seen heedlessly running along the Airport Road leading to Tongi and beyond, and the road to Aricha.
Traffic officials blamed the policy of allowing trucks and other heavy transport vehicles to enter the city before 8:00pm for the unruly traffic situations after nightfall.
“Hundreds of trucks wait at the city’s entry points for hours and enter the city at the same time, creating an chaotic rush of traffic,” said a traffic inspector of DMP
According to him, an effective solution to this problem could be the construction of more bypass roads to ease pressure from the key entry points of the city.
“Bypass roads would certainly make things better by easing the flow of traffic at the entry points. With bypass roads available for use, vehicles to Narayanganj from Gazipur would not need to enter the city’s main roads,” said Haque.


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