Illegal graffiti ads dirtying city

December 29, 2008

Rizanuzzaman Laskar
Photo: STAR

Photo: STAR

Strange looking women in peculiar clothes have taken over most of the city’s roadside walls. Their grotesque and deformed postures annoy pedestrians.
Onlookers say this kind of particular advertisements is a torture to their eyes. “They look like aliens from mars,” remarked Shah Alam, a pedestrian in Badda.
The unpleasant looking wall advertisements from a private teaching institution stretching across many of the city’s walls are an instance of the problem that has been spoiling city’s street landscapes for decades: graffiti advertisements.
Among the various factors that are responsible for defacement of the city’s landscape, graffiti stands out against all others as an eyesore to everyone.
Dhaka dwellers say the city is becoming increasing dirty due to an increasing trend of putting up graffiti and sticking posters on walls for advertising purposes.
Small business firms including private coaching centres to electronics products retailers, from schools to beauty parlours, clinics to restaurants tend to creep up the walls.
“They are probably the cheapest and one of the most effective forms of advertisements,” said Mohammad Khalil, an artist who was seen painting graffiti on a wall near the Khilgaon rail crossing earlier in the week.
“They offer maximum exposure at very economic costs,” he said.
But someone should inform Khalil, his fellow advertisers and the marketers who use walls for advertising their products that people engaged in such activities can be punished for damaging public or private property as per existing law.
“You cannot help but wonder how can all these small business firms and advertisers can use street walls without any noticeable constraints while candidates for the national elections — probably the most important event of the country — were barred from using graffiti for campaign,” said Mahbubul Alam, a veteran from Malibagh.
Some of the advertisements also contain vulgar or improper remarks that many onlookers may find offensive.
“My son recently started going to school. He likes to read out loud almost everything he comes across — names of stores, posters, banners and of course the graffiti painted on the walls as you cannot miss them,” said Kamrul Hasan from Dhanmondi.
“The other day we were passing by a series of street advertisements on the wall. My son’s eyes caught an advertisement from an herbal clinic offering solutions to voluptuous and impotency related diseases,” he said. “His curiosity got the best out of him and he started asking questions about the meaning of those words.”
“It was a very awkward situation as I had no answer to his questions,” said Hasan. “It is shocking to see there is no form of restriction or even monitoring on what sort of things are being posted there. Are the authorities actually doing anything regarding this?”
Apart from street-side walls, many of these graffiti ads are creeping into private properties.
“Earlier last week, I woke up in the morning to find a large graffiti advertisement of a ball point pen in the front wall of my garage beside my front entrance,” said Kamal Hossain from Malibagh.
“I was enraged. I went to lodge a complaint with the local city corporation office. They said they would look into the problem. But no action has been taken although it has been over a week since then,” he said.
When contacted, the manager of an advertising firm told this correspondent they usually take permission from the owners before using their walls for graffiti.
However, this correspondent could not find one owner who could testify that the graffiti in front of their house was painted with their consent.
Sources at the Conservancy Department of DCC said they conduct regular drives to stop this practice.
“We usually contact the advertisers and ask them to repaint the walls back to its original form. We would take lawful measures against them if they do not comply to this direction,” said a DCC official requesting anonymity.
However, they could not say when the next series of drive would start.
Meanwhile, the LGRD and cooperatives ministry has drafted an ordinance proposing a ban on scrawling graffiti and pasting posters on the walls of houses and establishments in urban areas across the country.
The draft titled ‘Wall writing and poster control ordinance 2008’ also proposed stringent punishment including fines for violation of the ordinance, sources said.
According to the draft proposals, nobody will be allowed to use walls for writings or pasting posters to campaign for their interests. The law enforcement agencies will be empowered to direct companies or persons concerned to remove those.
Copy of the draft ordinance has been sent to the Election Commission (EC) to examine its provisions.
According to Zillur Rahman, a spokesperson for George Advertisement, the cost of a graffiti advertisement would vary depending on the type of paint used along with the length and width of the advert and also the location.
“I would recommend synthetic enamel pain as it has greater longevity and looks good too,” he said. “An average advertisement usually stretches around 5 feet in length and 12 to 15 feet in width with each square feet costing around Tk 15.”
“You would not have to worry about anything else. All you have to do is give us an outline of the kind of advert you want and pay the charges. We will take care of everything else,” said Zillur.


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