The people of Dhaka must be held to a higher standard of responsibility
In the last few days, workers or volunteers of the Gulshan Society in Dhaka have been, and still are, cleaning up the lake separating Gulshan from Banani. The rubbish which is regularly thrown into the lake has been removed, and the banks nicely cleaned.
Sadly, this will not stay like this for long. The inhabitants of the residential and office blocks of flats alongside the lake do not care where their rubbish is thrown and, sadly, the authorities do not punish anyone.
How to correct the attitude of this throwaway society? It is unbelievable that it appears that nobody feels that it is wrong to throw away polystyrene and other packaging material into the lakes.
I have lived in this area for over 20 years, and when people had houses and gardens, however small, things were kept neat and tidy, even to the extent that it was interesting to judge the best kept compound or garden in a particular road or lane.
I do not understand how people who are personally very clean have no civic or community sense at all.Even in the apartment building where I now reside, occupants of the upper floors throw rubbish out of their balconies and the wind blows it into mine -- cigarette packets, cigarette butts, chocolate wrappers, small bundles of hair, etc.
Why do they do this? Each flat in the apartment building pays Tk200 a month to have rubbish collected from each flat on a daily basis but still, due to laziness and a “don’t care” attitude, rubbish is thrown from the balconies.
Personal and community cleanliness has to be taught from a very young age, so it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to impart these good practices while at the same time, teach aspects of personal safety and, most importantly, road safety.
Teaching children at a young age can have a valuable and everlasting effect. It is at a young age that children should be taught not to spit, not to expel a nasal discharge which is something adult men seem to do at will, not to throw away wrappers, and to cross the road safely. Related to civic good practice, the mayor of DNCC has announced that pavements will be freed up so that pedestrians can use them.
At the moment, many are blocked by petty traders and unhygienic tea shops and, where there are no shops blocking the pavement, motorbikes and cycles use them in a dangerous manner in order to beat the traffic jams.
I am not aware that the traffic police have ever attempted to stop this practice of driving on the pavements. It is extremely dangerous. In addition, while talking about blocked walkways, a few years ago, very pleasant shaded walkways were made on the sides of the lakes.
On the Banani side of the lake, between Road 22, Block-K and Kamal Atatürk Avenue, the walkway is blocked by construction materials and very many rickshaws, so pedestrians are forced to walk in muddy places.
It is possible that someone is earning an illegal income by running a parking service for rickshaws! However, on enquiry, the rickshaw drivers said they were very poor and needed free parking and the tree-lined walkway made it a very pleasant shaded place for them.
What makes the situation worse and a good breeding ground for the Aedes mosquitoes is that waste water runs from some of the apartment buildings and flows on to the walkway where it stays as a stagnant pool of filthy water.
Julian Francis has been associated with relief and development activities of Bangladesh since the War of Liberation.