New traffic rules have come into operation. On Monday, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) made sure that the new rules, or more specifically laws, came into full implementation mode in the nation's capital. The results were clear, from quite a few perspectives. In the first place, the mobile courts set up by BRTA went into action slapping fines on drivers who fell foul of the law, in the process initiating cases for any infractions.
In the second place, there have the complaints which have largely come from operators of public transport, to the effect that the new laws are a little too harsh and in a good number of instances the punishment for drivers who break them may not actually fit the crime. It is a point the authorities should take note of. It is certainly our belief that the road traffic system in the capital and indeed all over the country should be streamlined with the overall objective of reducing accidents through inducing drivers and owners of vehicles, both public and privately owned, into practising discipline on the roads. For far too long, our roads and highways have been a cause of major concern for us, a particular reason being that all efforts to put traffic rules in place have almost always been flouted.
It is therefore imperative that nothing be done to have the new laws becoming ineffectual. But that will depend on two particular factors. The first is that the BRTA authorities as well as the traffic police personnel on duty on roads and highways must demonstrate diligence and maturity in the performance of their responsibilities. There should be no room for complaint from drivers and vehicles about high-handedness or rude behaviour on their part. All too often, our traffic police constables and sergeants have been seen to be harassing drivers and in the process getting abusive in their behaviour. It is behaviour that must change if the authorities mean to have drivers change their behaviour on the roads.
The second is that the new traffic rules should be a reason for citizens, and not just drivers, to be educated in the way they conduct themselves in their movements. For years we have observed a systematic violation of rules by people, especially pedestrians, a problem which manifests itself through their deliberate unwillingness to use the many foot overbridges erected to make movement easier for them. Strong steps must be taken to instill discipline and a sense of civic responsibility among citizens.
Finally, as we write, we understand that transport workers in a number of districts and towns have resorted to a strike to protest the new traffic laws. We expect the authorities to stand firm in the face of such provocation. No one should take the nation hostage on any issue whatsoever.
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