Students bring Dhaka to a standstill with protests over road safety

Wednesday 08th August 2018 02:49 EDT

Dhaka: Protesting high school students have blocked major intersections in Bangladesh’s congested capital Dhaka for five straight days, choking traffic and vandalizing vehicles as they demonstrate against a bus accident that killed two teens. Authorities have urged an end to the protests, as the students’ outrage paralyzes the city of 18 million. Police have reportedly fired tear gas and blanks in an effort to disperse the crowds as the protests turned violent with several reported assaults.

Students marched through city streets demanding to see people’s driving licenses and parading through the streets chanting “we want justice.” The government shut down high schools, according to reports, and officials promised the teens their road safety concerns would be considered.

Students adamant on their demands

But students did not relent. “They should have taken our demands seriously, but they didn’t,” Imran Ahmed, a protesting student, said. The protest began on Sunday after a bus racing for passengers reportedly struck a group of waiting college students, killing two and injuring several others. Dhaka’s buses are notoriously unregulated and accident-prone. To change the status quo, agitated students issued nine demands, including capital punishment for irresponsible driving. Until their demands are met, students have reportedly taken up enforcing traffic laws on their own, stopping drivers for license checks. Bus companies have responded by taking their vehicles off the road, leaving commuters stranded.

Attempting to defuse the standof, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reportedly agreed to implement the nine-point demands. Traffic authorities have already met some of the stipulations, and will soon install footbridges near schools and adopt tougher enforcement measures against drivers without proper licenses, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said. “They will set up check posts at each point in the city from where buses set off,” he said. He called on the students to stop playing vigilante traffic cops. “In the last five days 317 vehicles have been vandalized and eight burned. We are urging you not to continue this,” he said.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter