The elections to Dhaka South City Corporation and Dhaka North City Corporation are scheduled to be held on January 30
The next mayors of Dhaka’s two city corporations should plan and execute a series of actions, initiatives and systematic changes to turn the capital into a liveable and world-class city, suggest experts.
Emphasizing good governance, they have opined that the mayors will have to try introducing urban government system, and maintain proper coordination among the city corporations and utility service providing agencies, all the while working to eradicate corruption.
Making the streets free of dust and waste, bringing the city under a complete public transportation system, boosting tourism by preserving traditional and architectural heritage sites, and freeing occupied footpaths and making them wider are also the expectations the experts shared.
They also focused on housing for low-income groups, removing warehouses and workshops from the city, and undertaking an effective campaign to fight the menace that is mosquito.
The elections to Dhaka South City Corporation and Dhaka North City Corporation are scheduled to be held on January 30.
On Thursday, the Election Commissioner declared that candidatures of 13 mayoral aspirants were valid. The candidates will have until January 9 to pull out from the race if they wish.
Sharing his thoughts, Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) General Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said: “First, the mayor aspirants must avoid any kind of violence on the election day. If elected amid allegations of violence, they will be considered controversial.”
After taking office, they will have to play bolder roles in forming an urban government or introducing a “city parliament” so that they can perform their duties properly, he added.
“Mayors can head the urban government or city parliament engaging the utility agencies concerned,” Badiul suggested, and added that city corporations will keep functioning traditionally if the urban government is not formed.
Reiterating his demand for good governance, he said the city corporations must no longer be allowed to be misused by party-affiliated service-seekers and to host corruption and harassment of general people.
Architect Taimur Islam, chief executive officer of Urban Study Group, said the two city corporations must create spacious and comfortable footpaths, and take seriously the issues of mosquito control and waste management.
He said: “Dhaka South City Corporation should undertake projects to attract more tourists in Old Dhaka by upgrading the existing structures and introducing various cultural activities aside from creating studios, galleries and theatre.”
“If implemented, cultural tourism will give a major boost to our tourism revenue,” he viewed.
No unnecessary pledges, please
A large number of people from low-income groups engaged in the city’s development projects are deprived of the basic civic amenities, which should not have happened, Taimur Islam said, urging the authorities to provide them with all utility facilities and meet their basic needs.
He also emphasized on ensuring facilities for children, women, elderly people and people with disabilities.
“To do so, the two city corporations must have a combined advisory body. Otherwise, sustainable development will not be ensured for all citizens,” he feared.
Adil Mohammad Khan, general secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners, said: “Mayor candidates usually make pledges beyond their reach, such as eliminating traffic jam from the city. They must stop doing this.”
He, however, said that traffic congestion could be controlled through community engagement.
“A mayor can engage the locals a lot. He can renovate drainage systems, keep environment clean, and create small parks and public spaces in the wards. To get it all done, mayors, councillors and city corporation officials all must be held accountable,” Adil said.
Waste management and mosquito control are two serious public health issues, for which there is no alternative to taking proper action accordingly, he observed, recalling that both city corporations kept failing in these cases over the past years including 2018.
Nevertheless, wastes, water logging and mosquitoes can well be controlled with the existing manpower and working manual of the city corporations, Adil said.
“A ward-wise five-year plan must be adopted for smooth and sustainable development,” he said, adding that the mayors should negotiate with the government to come up with ways to increase the city corporations’ revenue stream.
Environmentalist Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder said: “The mayors must take the challenge to make Dhaka habitable, alleviating it from its existing mysteries.
“Hence, they will have to focus on improving air quality, proper waste management, coordinated development projects, smooth traffic and eliminating waterlogging,” said Kamruzzaman, also a professor of environmental science at Stamford University.