Traffic chaos is nothing new to Dhaka, one of the most populous cities in the world, and there are a litany of reasons for that but police stations, of all things, should not be one of them.
Take for example the case of Vatara Police Station, located on Madani Avenue in Baridhara and in close proximity to the Notun Bazar intersection.
Although Madani Avenue is quite a wide road, almost half of it, including the footpath, in front of Vatara Police Station is choked up with vehicles impounded by the police, inflicting severe traffic congestion regularly.
Irfan Sheikh, A Baridhara resident who regularly commutes through this road, told The Business Standard (TBS), “This road is quite wide and remains free except for the portion in front of the police station. Police kept the seized vehicles on the road, blocking traffic and pedestrian movements and causing gridlocks that often take hours to subside.”
When asked about it, ABM Asaduzzaman, the officer-in-charge (OC) of Vatara Police Station, told TBS, “These vehicles in front of the police station are the cause of concern and suffering for us as well. Most of the time, the owners of these vehicles, which are either damaged by accidents or required tax renewals, do not redeem them due to legal complications.”
“But, as soon as I took charge of this station, I wrote to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Headquarters and to the courts concerned to take out the vehicles from the road in front of the station to a dumping ground,” he said, adding that no progress has been made so far.
“These vehicles, which are tied to various cases, are supposed to be on the court premises but there is no space there. So they have been kept in the police station. Besides, dumping stations in Dhaka are inadequate,” the police officer said, pledging to arrange the vehicles in a way that will free up some space and reduce traffic congestion.
This situation is not exclusive to Vatara Police Station. Similar scenarios have been observed in front of the several police stations in the capital including Tejgaon Industrial Area, Banani, Mohammadpur, Darussalam, Motijheel, Jatrabari, Shyampur, and Kadmatoli police stations.
These police stations, many of which are located in rented buildings, and their surrounding areas have been turned into dumping stations, blocking alleys and roads and causing suffering to locals.
On August 28 last year, Dhaka North sent a letter, signed by North City Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Selim Reza, to the Local Government Division to take immediate steps in this regard but no development has been seen so far.
Then in October, the Local Government Division under the LGRD ministry sent a letter to the Public Security Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs to remove the seized vehicles from the roads in front of police stations to elsewhere, presumably to authorised dumping grounds.
Although three months have passed since the letter was sent, the Ministry of Home Affairs has not taken any initiative on the matter.
Residents in the capital’s various localities have also expressed anger over the nuisance dumping of seized vehicles in the surroundings of police stations.
“If those who are in charge of ensuring law and order are creating chaos and inflicting suffering on commuters, then who should we turn to for solutions,” said Samsunnahar Begum, a resident of the Banani area.
Samsunnahar, who regularly travels on Road 7 in front of Banani Police Station, told TBS that two cars cannot move alongside on this road as more than half of the road is occupied by the dumping of police-seized vehicles.
Banani Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Noor E Azam Mia told TBS, “These vehicles are evidence in various cases. We are trying to gradually remove these vehicles from the station but it is not possible to remove them all at once.”
In response to a question about whether he had received any instructions from the home ministry to move the vehicles elsewhere, he said, “We have not received any such instructions.”
The road in front of the Kadmatoli Police Station is also occupied by a good number of vehicles seized by the police. Zamiul Islam, a resident here, told TBS that impounded vehicles are also kept on nearby roads.
The vehicles seized by traffic police are not kept on the road and are sent directly to the capital’s three dumping stations or police stations concerned, said Additional Police Commissioner (Traffic) Md Munibur Rahman.
“The vehicles sent to police stations are tied to various cases and the stations concerned are responsible for the placement and maintenance of these vehicles,” he added.
A home ministry official, on condition of anonymity, told TBS, “The issue came up in a recent meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs. But no decision has been reached in this regard yet.”