A photo published on the front page of this daily on November 10, 2019, depicting a chaotic picture of three-wheelers being haphazardly parked on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway, brings to light one of the key problems of our highways: their transformation into veritable parking lots by unruly drivers. In a country that is already grappling with an increasing number of fatal crashes on the highways, such a picture is not only undesirable but also deplorable.
Alarming as the picture might be, this has become a regular practice for the drivers, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of our traffic law enforcement agencies. Often the drivers, buying impunity with bribes, carelessly park their heavy—and as this specific picture suggests, even small—vehicles on the side of the highways blocking way for other vehicles to pass. Highways are meant for fast-moving vehicles, and in such a situation, illegal and improper parking not only leads to traffic tailbacks, but also unwanted accidents. According to a police headquarters report, 45.57 percent of the total road accidents in 2018 took place on the highways, which also accounted for 54.61 percent of the total deaths in road crashes in the same year.
Under such circumstances, the concerned agencies must take immediate actions against the owners/drivers of illegally parked vehicles on the highways. The government ban on the movement of slow-moving vehicles, including three-wheelers, on highways should be strictly reinforced, while construction of markets, including kitchen markets, on the waysides should also be completely banned. Zero tolerance should be shown to belligerent drivers who put the lives of innocent people at risk by parking their vehicles in undesignated places on the highways. The culpable law enforcement officials who allow such practices to continue should also be brought to book.