Dhaka city’s infrastructure in a shambles

Experts blame absence of public representatives in DNCC and DSCC

The infrastructural development of the capital has significantly slowed down because of an absence of public representatives in both the city corporations, according to city-dwellers and the urban experts claims.

The organisations responsible for the city’s maintenance are now being run by government servants, who are allegedly involved in various irregularities and act on a whim while handling the city corporations’ work, sources said.

The largest and most important local government bodies, both the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) – formed when the government split the Dhaka City Corporation in two parts on November 29, 2011 aiming to achieve better performance in city management – have failed to live up to the city-dwellers’ expectations.

No elections were held in the two city corporations since the split, which is why there are no mayors and ward councillors to run these civic bodies.

According to city residents and the urban planners, the condition of the capital’s infrastructure – streets, footpaths, drainage system – has been deteriorating for the past three years.

The allegations were refuted by the authorities concerned, who claimed that they had been running the city corporations properly.

Professor Nazrul Islam, president of the Centre for Urban Studies, expressed concern over the poor city management by both the city corporations.

“In 2011, when the city was bifurcated, the government said it was to serve the city residents with more dedication. However, referring to news reports, I was unable to find any improvement on both sides of Dhaka in the past three years,” he said.

Nazrul also claimed that due to public representatives in the city corporations, the current authorities were not accountable to anyone and did as they pleased.

“The government should not transfer the administrators of the city corporations every six months. Top executives were transferred before they could fully understand their roles, ultimately depriving the city residents of better services,” he said.

He also suggested that the government should immediately take steps to hand the corporations’ responsibilities over to elected representatives.

Sources in the DSCC and DNCC said around 1,500km out of around 2,300km streets in the capital are in a dilapidated condition and need immediate renovation.

In different areas under the DNCC and DSCC, roads and walkways were found to covered in potholes and broken in places, due to a lack of proper maintenance by the authorities concerned.

Although the DSCC spent Tk256 crore on the maintenance of roads, surface drains and traffic systems over the past two fiscal years – according to its latest budget information – a large number of streets and drains are in shambles.

Residents of Shukrabad, Panthapath, Kathalbagan, parts of Kalabagan, Jhigatola, Hazaribagh, Lalbagh, Azimpur, Kamrangirchar, Jatrabari, Postogola and Shanir Akhra, all under the DSCC’s jurisdiction, claimed that the maintenance of streets and others in those areas were lousy.

Munir Ahmed, a Shukrabad resident, said: “The DSCC authority has turned a blind eye to long-standing issues, like potholes and poor drainage system in the area. The terrible condition of the streets inside the residential areas makes vehicular movement difficult.”

The situated gets worse during monsoon, because even a little rain submerges the entire area in knee-deep water, he said.

“Earlier, there were ward councillors in the city corporation, to whom we could go and complain about our problems. But now there are no councillors due to the city corporation elections being postponed,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DNCC, which spent Tk361 crore on infrastructure maintenance, has failed to meet several deadlines in completing the projects for construction and repair of roads and footpaths in different areas under its jurisdiction.

Most of the streets and parts of the main roads and footpaths in Mirpur, Kalshi, Manikdi, Agargaon, Kalyanpur, Uttara, Khilkhet, Ashkuna, Banani, Gulshan, Indira Road, West Rajabazar and Sobhanbagh are in a dreadful state.

Mohammad Dulal, a resident of Manikdi, said most of the roads, walkways and surface drainage system in the area were in a very bad shape, which made movement for both the vehicles and the pedestrians immensely difficult.”

“The DNCC has taken no initiative to reform the drainage system and repairing the dilapidated roads in Manikdi,” he added.

However, authorities of the DSCC and DNCC refuted all claims of mismanagement by the city-dwellers.

“After the division of Dhaka City Corporation, the city-dwellers have been getting better services,” said DSCC’s Chief Executive Officer Md Ansar Ali Khan, while talking to the Dhaka Tribune.

“Development in our jurisdiction is taking place based on the data and information collected by the zonal offices,” he added.

However, he said: “Due to a fund crunch, we have not been able to repair a few dilapidated roads, which will be fixed in this fiscal year.”

DNCC’s Chief Executive Officer BM Enamul Haque said: “It is not fair to put all the blame on the city corporation. Those who are complaining should specify exactly what kind of problems they are facing.

“With the help of the media and the people in identifying the problems in the city, we can immediately take actions to solve them,” he said.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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