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Dhaka residents suffer from lack of basic services

  • Published at 11:31 pm January 25th, 2020
Dhaka City
The absence of proper waste management by the two city corporations in some areas have left some of the canals partially blocked with human and food waste, polythene bags and all kind of trash Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka’s playgrounds were built only for boys as girls did not feel safe playing in the playgrounds

Ahead of the mayoral elections on February 1, many residents of Dhaka have complained that they lack basic services from the city which they hope will be resolved this time around. 

“Even my house is close to a playground in Mirpur 12, I hardly get any scope to play in the playground as most of the time the ground is either occupied by construction materials from nearby sites or there arye some fairs or carnivals going on there,” said a seventh-grader Mohammad Abdullah.

Abdullah’s area falls under Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) run by Sayeed Khokon who is not contesting this election. 

There is also a lack of women friendly spaces in the city as expressed by Sharmin Akter, saying that Dhaka’s playgrounds were built only for boys as girls did not feel safe playing in the playgrounds.

Experts say that city corporations are responsible for keeping the playgrounds up and running throughout the year. The corporations should take steps so that not only boys but also girls can play in the playgrounds all year long. But, sadly, representatives of the corporations till now have never fulfilled these goals. 

When asked about the failure to keep playgrounds in order throughout the year, former Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayor, and currently running for the office again, Atiqul Islam said: “I realized the issue in my short tenure of nine months as mayor of DNCC and I will try my best to improve all the playgrounds under DNCC if people re-elect me.” 

While talking to Dhaka Tribune on a separate issue, people living in Kamrangircha pointed out that solid waste does not get disposed of in their area.

Canals in Dhaka's Hazaribagh are completely polluted by waste, posing a health hazard to residents and city corporation workers alike | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Ashraful Alam, a citizen of Jawlahati Hajirghat area, said:  “There is no specific place for disposing of or managing waste as well as no zonal secondary waste management station for treating the waste properly in Kamrangirchar."

“Cleaners from the corporation hardly do their job as most of the times waste materials remain in open spaces, the untreated waste spreads a foul odour in the surrounding area, and also pollutes the environment,” he added.   

Waste that is not properly managed, especially excreta and other liquid and solid waste from households and the community, are a serious health hazard and lead to the spread of infectious diseases. 

Ashraf also said DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon had made a  commitment to recover Kamrangirchar from undisposed waste by setting up a secondary waste station, thus improving the Adi-Buriganga channel by implementing a project like Hatirjheel. 

“But nothing was done,” said a resigned Ashraful Alam.

Addressing the issue, Councillor of ward 55 (Kamrangirchar) Noor-E-Alam said:  “As the roads are really narrow, waste disposal vehicles face difficulties getting to the spot to collect the untreated waste. We have come up with a new solution. We spoke with locals to find some dedicated places for waste disposal where roads are wide enough so that the vehicles can easily pick up the waste.” 

Residents of Sukrabad, East Rajabazar and Boubazar areas of ward number 21 under DSCC faced immense sufferings caused by water-logging even last year.

“We faced water-logging problems throughout the rainy season but the mayor didn’t do anything to improve the drainage system,” said Mohammad Mainul Islam, a local businessman in Sukrabad.

“Water-logging is one of the major reasons for the uncontrollable breeding of mosquitoes which thrive in stagnant pools of water, resulting in dengue infections in Bangladesh every year. 

Zannatul Ela, a resident of Mohammadpur, said: “Even though we pay taxes and fees for garbage collectors, conditions remain unchanged as we see dirt and dust on roads and pavements all year long.” 

“The city corporation is mostly in a sorry state as it has failed in controlling the breeding of mosquitoes, failed to ensure safe food for citizens and failed to give citizens a greener and cleaner city,” she added.

Dr Adil Mohammad Khan, secretary, Bangladesh Institute of Planners, thinks both the city corporations and residents need to work together to make Dhaka a better, more livable city. 

He said: “Elected representatives of the megacity will work for the welfare of an estimated 105 million city dwellers but it will only work when people from all walks of life come together and be one.”