It has become a norm. Big sport utility vehicles with government stickers and some flaunting the national flag driving on the wrong side of the streets while “commoners” remain stuck in traffic on the right lane.
Flag-bearing SUVs of ministers, cars of lawmakers, and top government officials of different ministries, police, leaders of the ruling party and its front organisations, journalists, staff buses of government offices and student buses of Dhaka University are seen routinely violating traffic rules.
On September 2 last year, The Daily Star published a report with photographs of vehicles of influential people with their cars on the wrong side at several city points.
Apparently, nothing has been done to stop this in the last nine months.
“There are some issues that are reality, you know. We know it too,” Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque told this paper recently.
But he claimed the number of vehicles flouting traffic rules was small.
“We hope everybody will abide by the law,” the police boss told a press briefing at the police headquarters recently.
On Thursday afternoon, this correspondent saw several sticker and flag-bearing vehicles, some escorted by police, passing the Ruposhi Bangla intersection using the wrong lane.
Traffic cops were seen busy making way for the vehicles, halting the heavy stream of vehicles on the right lane.
Asked, a traffic constable said they had to do it to avoid retribution.
It was the same picture on Hare Road, at Tejgaon flyover end at Bijoy Sarani, Farmgate Police Box and Moghbazar and Bangla Motor intersections.
Double-deckers of Dhaka University are frequent violators of the traffic rule.
DU Vice-chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said they were aware of the allegation.
“Some drivers claim that the students compel them to do it when the buses get stuck in traffic. The university’s transport section is handling the matter. Drivers have been strictly instructed to follow traffic rules and not to pay any heed to the students’ illegal demand,” he said.
“Tough action will be taken against the driver if found breaching traffic rules,” the VC added.
A week ago, a double-decker carrying employees of Bangladesh Supreme Court was seen crossing the Ruposhi Bangla intersection through the wrong lane.
Contacted, Syed Aminul Islam, registrar general of the Supreme Court, said he was unaware of the matter and that they would take action upon receiving the allegation.
On June 14, two photographers of this newspaper took photos of the violation of the traffic rule by government officials at Bangla Motor, Paribagh and Bijoy Sarani intersections and on Minto Road.
Admitting that ministers and lawmakers’ vehicles often ply through the wrong side of the streets, a top DMP official of the traffic division said they were helpless.
“If those who make laws are found to be violating laws, then what can we do?” he asked.
Contacted, DMP Joint Commissioner (traffic) Mosleuddin Ahmed said they filed cases against traffic rules violators and also forced vehicles travelling on the wrong side to get back to the right lane.
The police also prepared a list of offenders and sent it to the offenders’ higher authorities for action.
Asked about traffic rules violation by police vehicles, the joint commissioner said he would look into the matter.