A thorny issue that holds some promise

A thorny issue that holds some promise

Mahmudur Rahman | Prothom Alo  Mar 23, 2019

Students took position on road in Dhanmondi demanding safe roads following the death of Bangladesh University of Professional (BUP) student Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury in a road accident. 20 March 2019. Dhanmondi, Dhaka. Photo: Shuvra Kanti DasHot on the heels of two profound directives, one on realising the Bangladesh Bank heist money and non-performing left comes a rather innovative approach to three vexing national issues-drug peddling, especially yaba, road safety and traffic jams, and restoring secularism in school curriculum. What raises the eyebrows is the personages to whom these have been entrusted. While on surface level it appears to be be foxes guarding chickens, there are strong elements of wisdom behind the ‘appointments’.

In return for Abdur Rahman Bodi’s wife becoming an MP, Mr. Bodi has turned in a dozen yaba peddlers along with antiquated but workable guns and ammunition who were quick to say they acted on orders. Reports suggest most of those turned in are Bodi’s relations. Bodi has stated he will clear his constituency of drug peddlers thereby suggesting there will be no further legal action against him. His remit will include involving the foreign and home Ministers, especially in the dismantling of phensydil and yaba manufacturing units in the border vicinities of India and Myanmar. Of greater importance is the social boycott that must be addressed so that demand dwindles. This is what the dealers strive on throughout the world.

Transport workers leader Mr, Shahjahan Khan, the former minister, has been tasked with handling road safety and traffic jams, thereby forcing an admission that the police have essentially surrendered their authority and admitted their inability to do anything about it. Their helplessness is personified by the publication of a World Health Report suggesting for the 3.8 million vehicles running in Bangladesh there are only 2 million driving licenses issued. This led to a lawmaker asking in parliament whether there are 1.8 million persons driving without valid papers. Mr. Khan, as transport leader, was successful in keeping the work force in tandem during the traffic crackdown, student protest against illegality on the roads and maintaining the peace during hard stand of the government. With the police effectively having given up, Khan may be just the person to bring back discipline in conjunction with the police, especially where erratic driving and parking is concerned. This, of course without putting just private vehicles at risk and that is a potential thorn in the side that can’t be ignored. Whether he can get owners to invest in pulling dilapidated contractions off the road will be a matter of interest.Getting them to follow the laws promises a fascinating spectacle.

And then we have Allahma Mostafa Shafi who has done flips on women education being asked to suggest changing the school curriculum back to its secular nature. This follows outcry over quite the opposite having happened, allegedly at the behest of the Hefazat Movement that claims to be apolitical and yet possessing the ability to bring matters to a standstill.
Awami Leagur general secretary Obaidul Quader defended Khan’s appointment on the grounds he has the ‘experience’. It’s a pity that wasn’t tapped in to before this.
The appointments, if successful will be a coup de grace. Otherwise hard nosed approaches will have to be followed. The drug issue hasn’t been solved anywhere, only reduced in availability and there are no air strikes destroying sovereignty or installations though that has been put merrily to bed in the case of terrorism. Traffic has essentially been a lost case in populous countries sans where transport on roads are reasonable in number. Curriculum has essentially been crafted by social realities, something we are just not used to.

*Mahmudur Rahman is a communication expert. He can be reached at mahmudrahman@gmail.com

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