Mayor Taposh in March announced that occupied spaces below flyovers would be vacated in phases
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh on March 10 announced that illegally occupied spaces under the flyovers in the areas under DSCC would be vacated in phases for ensuring vehicle movement and healthy environment.
Several months have gone by since then. Dhaka Tribune recently set out to see if the DSCC had delivered on its promise.
Karwan Bazar is one of the busiest places in Dhaka. As the fish market becomes active early in the morning, the space under the Moghbazar-Karwan Bazar part of the Moghbazar-Mouchak Flyover comes to life along with it.
A visit to the place revealed that small-scale retailers kept their fish in the space beneath the flyover after buying them from wholesalers. Moreover, the entire area in front of the Karwan Bazar fish market was crowded with daily wage earners busy cutting fish. Empty fish boxes also lay scattered up to the Begunbari intersection.
“Starting early in the morning, we cut fish at this place mostly till 10am,” said Rupa, who has been in the profession for four years.
Shiraj, a fish seller, said the city corporation periodically conducted eviction drives to vacate the space, but it returned to its earlier state as soon as the authorities left the place.
This correspondent’s next destination was the area under the flyover from Mouchak to Bangla Motor.
Seventeen-year-old tea seller Sohel was seen busy serving his customers in the area under the flyover in Eskaton. When asked who had given him permission to set up a shop under the flyover, he said he was just an employee and was unaware about the issue. “A person comes here every day to collect money — Tk500 — from the shop owner,” he said.
Near the tea stall was an empty bed, but the illegal occupant was absent.
Two minutes from that spot, there was another tea stall under the flyover.
Illegal parking, dumping ground
Walking further towards Moghbazar, this correspondent saw many cars parked in the space beneath the flyover as well as different types of vendors, including fruit sellers, one of whom told Dhaka Tribune that he gave Tk50 to a traffic police every day for being allowed to do business there.
There were neither any illegal occupants nor any vendors from the Moghbazar intersection to Mouchak, but that stretch of space seemed to have become a dumping ground for waste material.
There were a few big garbage containers from Mouchak to Malibagh railgate, but this portion of the space underneath the flyover also lacks proper maintenance in terms of waste management, other than the containers.
The area below the Khilgaon Flyover was well-maintained compared to other flyovers in the DSCC area in the matter of illegal occupation and garbage.
Meanwhile, a large area under the Mayor Mohammad Hanif Flyover near Joykali road was illegally occupied by rickshaw vans.
A person working there said: “Our proprietor has been renting the space for vans since before the flyover was built, and we have continued the business.” However, when asked about the authority from which the business owner had obtained permission, he could not come up with a clear answer.
In the area near the Jatrabari-Sayedabad bus terminal, at least 13 rickshaws along with 10 rickshaw vans were parked under the flyover. On condition of anonymity, the person calling the shots there said she paid Tk25,000 per month to run the parking business there, but declined to mention the name of the recipient.
When contacted, Kazi Md Borhan Uddin of the DSCC Traffic Engineering Circle said the authorities would appoint a consultancy firm to beautify the spaces under the flyovers.
He refused to provide further details regarding flyover maintenance.
According to the DSCC’s budget, the interim amendment budget for the beautification of the areas under flyovers for the fiscal year 2020-2021 was Tk1 crore, while the actual amendment budget for the term was Tk0. The budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal is Tk5 crore.