Dhaka’s immense population and dismal state of disrepair presents huge administrative challenges.
It is disappointing that one perceived solution to this problem, the splitting of DCC into two administrative units, has not delivered any major achievements in the last two years.
In fact in some aspects, it may have made things worse. Bifurcation has led to administrative complexities that make it difficult to take major strategic decisions or for municipal services like waste disposal and water supply to be properly co-ordinated.
It has also made it easier to engage in buck-passing making an already inept administration all the more inefficient. A system of shuffling officials between the two units every six months only makes such matters worse.
The most glaring problem with the splitting of Dhaka into North and South units is the absence of elected representatives.
With no mayors for either of the units, the level of accountability is effectively nil, and there is virtually no opportunity for citizens to apply pressure where pressure is needed. Accountability is needed so that citizens are empowered to engage on city wide issues.
However, blaming the administration alone for Dhaka’s woes is only addressing half the problem. Citizens could also do more to engage with their neighbourhoods. Precious little is done by many to maintain their neighbourhoods or engage with their city in a manner that reflects good citizenship or civic responsibility. Civic engagement therefore needs to be improved at a local grassroots level as well as city wide.