As holidaymakers rush to return to the capital after celebrating Eid at home, it becomes apparent that there is no way of getting around the problem of overcrowding than to decentralise.
Rural-to-urban migration seems to be at an all time high, putting tremendous pressure on Dhaka, damaging the environment, straining our resources, and making the city quite unliveable overall.
Already, Dhaka is the most densely populated metropolis in the world. Something has to give.
It is long overdue, then, for the government to address the Dhaka-centric bias that caused all facilities and infrastructure to be built in the city, causing a rush to the capital for jobs. We need to start spreading out our ministries and headquarters of military bases around the country. This approach can help set an example for the rest of us to follow.
Decentralisation is in our national interest, and in the end, all cities will be better served if other regions in the country were enabled to compete with Dhaka for the location of major facilities.
The city’s defective living conditions reflect the country’s dependency on it. From the congested roads and housing to all forms of pollution, Dhaka desperately needs to be revitalised.
The World Bank recently reported that air pollution has cost Bangladesh economy nearly $2.6 billion in foregone labour output in 2013. A significant reduction in pollution could be made shifting things out of Dhaka.
As Dhaka city strains to bear the weight of most of the nation’s economic activity, we hope the government will undertake plans to move factories out of Dhaka, impose strict traffic control rules to rein in the unbearable traffic, and ease the pressure on the city.
To save Dhaka, we must decentralise. The way we have been going so far is not sustainable.