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Karwan Bazar relocation in disarray

  • Published at 11:11 pm February 22nd, 2020
DNCC Kitchen Market
The newly constructed building for the DNCC kitchen market in Mohakhali remains unused for years Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Traders blame faulty planning and design for interrupted relocation process

The relocation plan for most of the shops from Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar kitchen market to multiple locations in Dhaka has remained in limbo for years despite reported completion of the required facilities at three places in the city.

Due to the delay in the process, the newly constructed buildings are decaying as they remain unused for years.

The project was sanctioned in 2006, and the construction work started in 2008, with the initial decision of constructing four buildings at Mahakhali, Aminbazar (Darus Salam area near Sweeper Colony), Lalbagh, and Jatrabari beside Mohammad Hanif Flyover’s Demra landing ramps.

But with a revised plan, the government decided to build three buildings, except Lalbagh for relocation later. 

The Mahakhali market was set up on 7 acres of land acquired from the Roads and Highways Department, while the one at Aminbazar was on 12 acres, and Jatrabari on 5.27 acres, the concerned officer said. 

Later, following the splitting of Dhaka City Corporation into Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) in 2012, the project went to the DNCC, although one of the new locations – Jatrabari – falls under the jurisdiction of DSCC.

At the beginning of the project, the Dhaka City Corporation had planned to house about 2,500 shops in the four wholesale markets. Among them the largest market at Aminbazar was to have 1100 shops, some 800 at Jatrabari, and more than 600 in Mohakhali. 

But when the reporter visited the facilities at Amin Bazar, Mohakhali and Jatrabari, it was found that Amin Bazar became the smallest one to support, and the walls of the building got damaged over time.

The present condition of the buildings is comparatively better at Amin Bazar and Mohakhali as the mechanical unit of the DNCC is taking regular care of those. 

But the stand alone building of Jatrabari sees the worse consequences.   According to locals, the building has become a hub for criminal activities as there is no security arrangement. 

While visiting the several floors of the building, it was found that the walls and the floors in some places were damaged, the door shutters of the shops, measuring some 100 square feet, were already stolen. 

The basement of the building is still carrying the signs of submersion of more than one foot of water flooding. A local traders’ organization whose fate has been stuck with the opening of the market, finally drained the water last year, but there was a huge amount of garbage in the basement of the building in Jatrabari. 

Approached none of the DNCC officials were willing to comment on the matter. The current project director and Superintendent Engineer of DNCC, Muhammad Arifur Rahman, also could not be reached despite several attempts. 

Last year he told the media that they have already handed over two facilities in Amin Bazar and Mohakhali to the estate department of DNCC. He also made a remark saying the other building would be handed over to the concerned authorities soon.

But when asked about the development, Chief Estate Officer Moazzem Hossain refused to comment. 

Relocation hanged for political reasons?

Sources from DNCC said the relocation is totally a political decision and it would be clear once recently elected mayor Atiqul Islam takes charge. 

Meanwhile, a DSCC official seeking anonymity told Dhaka Tribune that they were yet to receive the building from DNCC. 

“As the authorities are delaying the process, many other embarrassing situations regarding the relocation process have been emerging as well,” the official said, adding: “At least three letters were sent to DNCC to hand those over to the businessmen.” 

‘Faulty design interrupts relocation processes’

Traders at Karwan Bazar said the faulty designs of the buildings are the leading cause of interrupting the process. Besides, the transportation and financial issues also need to be resolved prior to the relocation. 

Among the three kitchen markets, the retail shops would be shifted to Mohakhali, while the vegetable wholesalers are to be shifted to Amin Bazar and Jatrabari. 

ATM Faruk, president of Karwan Bazar Khudra Aratdar Baboshayee Somobai Samity 2, said that relocation will damage the intricate marketing system that evolved over decades. 

“Vegetables perish very easily. A safe storage is very necessary. There are relationships between the vegetable sellers, porters, labourers, retailers, and truck drivers. But the facilities they have made and as such we are concerned it lacks a system to rehabilitate them in the new market areas,” he said.

Recently elected president of Karwan Bazar Wholesale Kitchen Market Traders’ Association Alhaj Abdul Latif said they are ready to shift. “But before that we have placed a 13 point demand which must be fulfilled. 

“Land valuation must take place and the traders here will not pay any extra money as Selami (money paid in advance for acquiring a city corporation shop) as we have already given it to them for a place in Karwan Bazar,” Latif said.