A picture on the back page of this newspaper yesterday said a lot about some of our habits. A cyclist, impatient to keep going, would not wait for an oncoming train to go by at Mohakhali rail crossing before moving on. He simply bent low under the barrier, pulled his bicycle behind him, letting anyone watching know that he was too important to bother about the train. He had to move on. And he did. It was a moment that was purposefully caught on camera by our very alert photo-journalist here at The Asian Age.
Old habits of course die hard, which is one reason why we see, all over the city, iron and bamboo barriers dividing roads and streets into two distinct sections. There are those who wisecrack, not too wrongly, that the Bengali needs discipline. Left to himself, he will cause knots on the road. Everyone is in a rush to overtake the other person.
The result is bedlam. And then there is a whole lot more, particularly when one thinks of jaywalking. Not many citizens are willing to use the foot overbridges set up in different parts of the city. There are also underpasses at some spots which pedestrians do not seem willing to make use of. Almost everyone is in a hurry to go over to the other side of the road, through deliberately flouting traffic rules. The attitude is stupefying, but what is truly surprising is that all those policemen placed at all the main points in the city take no action. They are there to maintain the rules of the road. They do not do that.
It calls for a response. And that basically is for the authorities to enforce discipline on the roads. Tough and swift action must be taken against citizens, pedestrians and motorists alike, who violate traffic rules. There must be a penalty for jaywalking and for wrong driving. Otherwise society will dwindle into unmitigated cacophony where no one listens to anyone.
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