Concrete traffic box being erected on a Dhaka street

A police box is under construction on the Shia Mosque road intersection in Mohammadpur, Dhaka. This photo was taken on 24 January 2024.Zahidul Karim

A concrete makeshift police box is being built on the road at the Shia Mosque intersection in the capital’s Mohammadpur, after removing the previous steel structure.

Officials at Dhaka city corporations, the agencies that are responsible for overseeing roads and footpaths in the capital, said erecting a structure requires clearance from the respective city corporation,

Mohammadpur area falls under ward 5 of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), and its officials said they are not aware of the construction of a police box on the road at the Shia Mosque intersection.

On the other hand, traffic police officials said the existing police box is being renovated and that vehicles do not move on this part of the road.

During a spot visit on 24 January, construction of a new police box was in progress at the Shia Mosque intersection connecting Ring Road and Taj Mahal Road. There is a banyan tree on the road divider of the intersection. Construction of the wall and roof has been completed, but the plastering remains.

DNCC zone-5 executive officer Motakabbir Ahmed said he was not aware of a police box being erected. He told Prothom Alo, “As far as I know no permission was issued to build this police box, and I don’t not whether any permission has been taken from the agency chief either. If any permission is issued, the zone-5 office was supposed to be informed by sending a copy of this.”

According to the officials at both Dhaka city corporations, usually, the traffic department of the police takes no permission to set up a police box, which is why the city corporations have no specific data on the number of makeshift and permanent police boxes.

However, sources at the DNCC’s traffic engineering department said a plan is being formulated to set up traffic boxes at important intersections of the roads in the capital.

Two police boxes have already been constructed under the supervision of DNCC’s traffic engineering department in Farmgate and in the Shahid Dr Fazle Rabbi Park area of Gulshan-1.

The DNCC also took the initiative to build five more police boxes at Mohammadpur bus stand, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, Jahangir Gate, Tejgaon Love Road and Bijoy Sarani.

Regarding the construction of a police box on the road at the Shia Mosque intersection, Dhaka Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner (DC) of the Tejgaon Traffic Division Mostak Ahmed told Prothom Alo, “Previously, there was a police box and we are renovating it and adding a restroom to it. Such police boxes are available across the capital, and the city corporations know it.”

When asked, this police official did not disclose details on the expenditure of the police box construction saying, this is an ‘internal’ matter.

Police boxes centering traffic signals are often seen at various intersections across the capital, and those are erected either on walkways or on road dividers.

The DNCC has taken initiatives to remove unapproved police boxes in the capital in recent years.

DNCC officials launched a drive to demolish the police box built on the road divider in Asad Gate in January 2023, but they failed to remove the structure in the face of obstacles from traffic police.

The DNCC officials also demolished two police boxes erected on the walkaways in front of the Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital in July 2022 in the presence of the mayor Atiqul Islam.

Wishing anonymity, a DNCC official told Prothom Alo police’s traffic department raises these structures to meet their necessity in addition to the request of various private firms. The majority of police boxes are built with funding from private firms or advertisement agencies, and a police box is constructed, advertisements are run on it, he added.

* This report appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna