It was 2:45PM on Monday (November 4).
A smart push button installed as part of the traffic light control system in front of SFX Green Herald International School at Asad Avenue in the city was pressed by this correspondent at least four times within 30 minutes.
Each time the button was pressed, the green signal was active for 27 seconds. During the time the green signal was active, most of the vehicles did not stop as the drivers continued to drive.
Only a car and a bus obeyed the signal and stopped to let pedestrians cross the street.
Pedestrians too demonstrated their indifference to the new system. They flouted traffic rules and did not always wait for the signal to turn green before crossing the street.
During each interval, the red signal remained active for three minutes.
This was the scene at the place where the first-ever smart traffic push button has been installed by Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC). It was installed in response to a plea by the SFX Green Herald International School authorities to ensure that students and pedestrians can safely cross the street.
DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam inaugurated the button on October 24.
Speaking at the inaugural programme, Atiqul said, "We have observed that pedestrians cross the road without using the foot overbridge, putting their lives at risk. This is also risky for drivers. We need to change this mindset."
"We want to encourage pedestrians to use the foot overbridge. If we abide by the law, all of us will become citizens conscious of our responsibilities," he added.
However, despite the Mayor's exhortations, neither pedestrians nor drivers have been obeying the signal since it was put in place.
"Drivers do not follow the signal. When students cross the street, we have to stand guard there and signal the vehicle to stop," said Mahbul, a security guard at SFX Green Herald International School.
"Not even pedestrians follow the signal. Either they are not conscious or they are not used to the system," he added.
Sumon, another security guard, said the smart push button is a new thing for local people, which is why they are not used to it yet.
"After a while, once they get used to it, they will follow the rules," he said, adding that a traffic policeman should also be assigned to control the situation.
Article 42 of the new Road Transport Act says, "The government or any organisation powered by the government can display or lift the signal. Every motor vehicle driver and pedestrian is bound to obey the traffic sign and signal."
Article 85 says, "If anyone violates the traffic sign and signal, he or she will be fined a maximum of Tk10,000 or face a maximum of one-month jail term or both."
Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam has said cases will be filed if pedestrians do not use foot overbridges and zebra crossings.
"For the time being, cases will be filed manually as before for breaking traffic rules," he said on Monday while announcing the enforcement of the Road Transport Act 2018.
"However, no case will be filed under the new law for a week.Traffic police will help people cross streets where facilities like zebra crossings are not available," he added.