In Bangladesh road accidents occur on a frequent basis. When someone gets injured or dies in a road accident, we take no time to blame the drivers, and witnesses at the scene often resort to vandalism and violence. No doubt, drivers often flout traffic rules and endanger pedestrians’ life. But are the pedestrians themselves careful enough to save their own life?
Jaywalking is a common occurrence. It is seen that most pedestrians on Dhaka’s busiest roads do not follow traffic laws. They are in the habit of crossing roads wherever they please instead of using the designated foot over bridges or zebra crossings. If anything, it proves that pedestrians are as reckless as the drivers are.Against this backdrop scout personnel took to the streets of the capital on Saturday to raise awareness of the proper use of foot over bridges and underpasses. As many as 1,353 members of rover scout at various schools, colleges and universities partook at the three-day campaign with the slogan ‘clean city, clean Bangladesh’. Dhaka North and South City Corporations lent their weight to the campaign.
Over the three days – 28 April, 5 May and 12 May – scout personnel were deployed under almost all foot over bridge across the city. A total of 20 scout members and a couple of city corporation stuff were stationed at each foot bridge and underpass. They distributed leaflet among pedestrians, helped elderly people climb up foot bridge, thanked those who were using foot bridge, and intercepted those who were jaywalking and talked to them about the necessity of using foot bridge.
Towhidul Islam, who is a member of Dhaka University Rover Scout and participated in the campaign, said, “We requested pedestrians to use foot bridge instead of crossing roads by risking their lives. And most of the pedestrians listened to us.”
Another student of Dhaka University named Rabeya Akhter narrated her experience about the campaign saying, “Drivers are mostly responsible for road accident. But I’ve seen pedestrians are not careful at all. Foot bridge or underpass has been installed at almost all important intersections in Dhaka, but those are hardly used. People are seen crossing roads by putting their lives in harm’s way.”
She further said, “We have discussed about the issue with the city dwellers and they took our initiative positively. If we conduct such campaigns on a regular basis, people will become more careful.”
From time to time Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) is seen conducting mobile court drive in the capital and fining people for not using footbridge, zebra-crossing and underpass. No doubt, it is a laudable initiative. But we should focus more on creating awareness other than fining or awarding punishment to those who are being caught jaywalking.But before we punish pedestrian for mindless walking, we must create a holistic walking environment for them. Most of our footpaths and footbridges are occupied by hawkers. In some areas pedestrians are forced to walk along the streets because footpaths are either occupied by hawkers or awash with leaking drainage or have no footpath at all. Besides, many footbridges need to be freed from hawkers, tramps and anti-social aliments.
In the end we would like our readers to be mindful of traffic rules. We have a common perception that it is the drivers who needs to follow the traffic rules. This is utterly wrong. As a part of the busy streets, we commuters must also go by rules and regulations on the streets. We sometimes cross roads briskly because of our business, but no amount of business is worth risking life.
The writer is a freelance contributor