DNCC Mayor Annisul Huq has said the problems of Dhaka city are everyone's to solve and needed all around cooperation.
“There are 65 institutions involved in providing service in the city. Everyone's contribution is required, The city corporation cannot solve problems alone,” he said.
A round table discussion, with the DNCC mayor at the centre and a panel of professionals, was held on Saturday morning, organised by the fastest growing Bangla online news portal Bangla Tribune, a sister concern of the Dhaka Tribune, at the Tribune conference room.
Annisul claimed he has been facing bureaucratic complications in his development efforts since he took charge of the northern city corporation one year ago.
He also urged citizens to give him some time to improve Dhaka's conditions, saying: “In another three years you will get a green, clean and new Dhaka.”
The panel included architect and urban planner Khondaker M Ansar Hossain, former director general of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) Salahuddin Mahmud, Dhaka Tribune and Bangla Tribune publisher Dr K Anis Ahmed, Dhaka Tribune Editor Zafar Sobhan, Bangla Tribune Acting Editor Zulfiqer Russell, ATN News Associate Head of News Probash Amin, Aaquib Shams, director of Six Seasons Hotel, among others.
The discussion was moderated by private television channel Ekattor TV presenter Mithila Farzana. Ekattor TV ran a live telecast of the event while Dhaka Tribune and Bangla Tribune did live webcasts.
The mayor answered questions based on a study carried out by the Bangla Tribune on the completion of the first year of both city corporations. Questions were also taken from citizens through the Facebook pages of Dhaka Tribune and Bangla Tribune. The citizens mostly asked about the illegal occupation of footpaths, roads, traffic jam and crisis of transportation, street flooding and random road digging.
“I am always facing bureaucratic complications in implementing my election manifesto,” the mayor told the round table.
Annisul said the Traffic Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police had asked the city corporation to build only one U-Loop as an experiment, when he had planned 22 of them along Dhaka's arterial roads to solve congestions at U-Turns.
The mayor, however, assured citizens that he was not afraid of any obstacles in carrying out development work.
“The ruling Awami League's local leaders, ward councillors and most of all the prime minister has been supporting me. So this mayor is not afraid of any threats,” he said.
[caption id="attachment_3054" align="alignleft" width="279"]
"I am always facing bureaucratic complications in implementing my election manifesto"[/caption]
'Footpaths will be recovered soon'
Urban Planner Ansar Hossain said: “From the Bangladesh Institute of Planners we gave a list of recommendations to the mayors. A key point was to recover footpaths and making them public friendly.”
Mayor Annisul said the corporation was launching holiday markets from next month and he believed this would bring an end to the illegal occupation of footpaths by hawkers.
“No one has worked on this issue in 49 years. I don't know why. I've been in office one year. We need to take into account the realities of this city,” he said.
'I can't solve traffic'
Answering Salahuddin Mahmud's query on traffic congestions, the DNCC mayor said the traffic situation did not fall under his responsibilities.
“There are other authorities tasked with tackling these problems, like the DTCA, the BRTA, traffic police and Rajuk.”
What his corporation could do was keep the streets clean, he said.
“And we're doing that. People are already getting the benefits,” Annisul added.
'We need compromise with businesses'
Businessman Aaquib Shams raised concerns about the DNCC's eviction drives against businesses that operate in the city's upscale areas such as Gulshan.
The mayor said many commercial establishments in the city have business permits but do not have trade licences provided by the city corporation.
“There are around 7,000 such enterprises in the two city corporations, around 6,000 in DNCC and the rest in DSCC,” he said.
But Annisul admitted that all businesses could not be moved out of residential areas, despite the laws requiring it.
“We can't just evict them. These businesses are there because people need them. They also employ a lot of people,” he said.
“I feel that we can accomplish this through short-term and long-term negotiations. Maybe a compromise about parking, about specific roads being used for commercial purposes,” he added.
Anis Ahmed said the government should focus on the implementation of all the laws enacted for Dhaka, like the Detailed Area Plan (DAP), to prevent unplanned growth of establishments and business outlets.
“Already a huge number of business outlets have popped up in the Gulshan-Banani area. Residents and tourists are dependent on them. It has become difficult for the government to take any negative or positive decisions about this,” he said.
In response to Dhaka Tribune Editor Zafar Sobhan's question, Annisul Huq said all development works in the city will be suspended before the monsoon and will start again after the rainy season is over.
Following Bangla Tribune chief Zulfikar Russel's query about the eight newly added unions under the DNCC, the mayor said he was not expecting any negative impacts from this but it was an additional challenge for his city corporation.