Banditry on the highway
WHEN the government vociferously claims that the law and order situation is better than ever before, we find the realities on the ground presenting an entirely different picture…. the latest case in point being the Dhaka-Chittagong highway … This principal highway between the capital and the port city, with all its business and trade connectivity ramifications is being preyed on by hijackers, robbers and extortionists…. The stark impunity stems from an acute lack or laxity of highway patrol. Where there is highway patrol or local arrangements for police surveillance these would get compromised, going by allegations of truckers and their associations.
The toll taken by robbery of construction materials includes dampening productivity of the steel mills outside Chittagong. It is not a single item-centred piracy, though; in fact, a whole range of export and import commodities are targeted by the robbers.
Add to that the plunder, harassment and extortion taking place at certain points of the highway. Since the vulnerable segments of the highways are all known, why these can’t be secured for the passage of the trucks with effective police intervention? The serious implications of such disruptions on the highway do not apparently dawn on the government. The foremost consequence of such banditry is increase in the cost of business which leads to depressing investments. Secondly, the prices shoot up due to obstructions along the supply lines with the consumers suffering the most. Moreover, image of the country takes a severe blow at a time when investment climate for the neighbouring or nearby countries is brightening….
The various associations have threatened to go on strike, foreshadowing a business standstill the government must do everything in its power to avert. Their grievance that no measures have been put in place despite constant reminders needs now to be heeded. — (July 10)