The upgrade is part of a larger project costing Tk265.44 crore
Shahbagh Shishu Park, a low-cost amusement park—when compared to Dhaka’s public and private initiatives—has been closed for renovation.
The development work for the 40-year-old park started in the beginning of January and is expected to end in December 2019.
Despite the park having been closed for almost three weeks, most of the city’s dwellers are not well-informed about the park being off-limits to the general public.
This deficiency of information has disappointed many potential park visitors.
Many of the unexpected victims, having fallen prey to the sudden shutdown of the park, have expressed their anger and frustration.
Kafil Uddin, a father of two daughters, came all the way from Barisal just to visit Dhaka city's famous Shishu Park; but, due to the ongoing extensive development project, returned home greatly dismayed.
“I came to the park with my two little daughters to spend some quality time. After arriving I realized that the park had been shut for the last two weeks," said Kafil Uddin.
Jhorna Akter from Paltan came to the Shishu Park with her six-year-old girl, Zara, to escape the hustle and bustle of the most densely-populated city in the world, Dhaka; but she also returned home disappointed.
She said: “I have been coming to this park on a regular basis with my daughter for last two years. Zara loves to spend time playing and going on the rides.
“But now, due to the authority’s sudden decision to keep the park closed, my daughter will not get the chance to breathe some fresh air and enjoy her childhood."
These are some examples of the hundreds and thousands of holidaymakers coming to Shishu Park, daily, with their children and family, returning home upset.
Also, the shopkeepers who had set up makeshift shops inside the park expressed their anger and frustration about the sudden park closure.
Shamim Hossain, a shopkeeper of the park said: "We did not get any prior notice about the closure of the park.
“It is not fair to shut down a running park without any prior notice. Now I cannot earn a living."
Are the officials to blame?
During a recent visit to the Shishu Park. on Tuesday, the reporter saw many visitors gathering in front of the park and reading the notice board put up by the authority regarding the ongoing development project.
The notice reads: “Development/modernization underway. To avoid unnecessary risks, Shishu Park will be shut for all. The park will reopen after the development project is completed.”
Talking to the correspondent, Md Safiuddin, caretaker of the park said: "The renovation and modernization project of the park is underway. To avoid any unwanted accidents the park premises if off-limits to the visitors."
Addressing this matter, Dhaka South City Corporation's Superintendent Engineer Anisur Rahman said: "The park will be closed for the modernization and development work. We are to add several new rides to this park with a more advanced and modern infrastructure design.
"Then, the park will be launched for visitors by the end of this year. We are doing everything we can to meet our deadline."
He said: "the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs, and [Ministry of] Housing, and Public Works Ministry jointly undertook this project which sees Dhaka South City Corporation supervising the modernization of the park."
When asked about the sudden park closure and miscommunication between the visitors and park authorities he said: “The allegation that the park was shut down without prior notice is incorrect. We had published a notice in seven national newspapers several days so that the people planning to visit Shishu Park would be notified about the renovation project.”
“Apart from this, the shutdown notices are also available at two entry gates of the park,” he added.
The mega project
According to the officials, for the "Building Liberation Monument in Suhrawardy Udyan (3rd phase)" project: underground parking space for 500 vehicles, walkways, underpasses, a mosque, and sophisticated rides will be added.
The project is estimated to cost Tk265.44 crore and its tenure has been set from January 2018 to December 2019.
The reporter saw the renovation project site first hand.
She saw the existing new rides being installed, along with other engineering instruments, as the ticket counters remained empty, collecting dust. Work to break the south-east food courts is in progress as dredging machines are working the soil.
Shishu Park was established in Shahbagh in 1979, under the name of Shahid Zia, and started its journey in 1983.
It was established on 15 acres of land at the initiative of the Bangladesh Tourism Corporation. There were 12 rides in the park including a toy train, a carousel, and multiple ferris wheel rides.
In 1992, a jet plane was gifted to the park by the Bangladesh Air Force.