Electricity poles in the capital pose danger for pedestrians as they are illegally being used for Internet and cable TV connections, but the authorities concerned appear to be playing the role of an onlooker.
People walking along the city streets, particularly in the commercial areas are at risk of accidents due to overhead utility cables connected with electricity poles, many city dwellers said.
Despite repeated order from the authorities to have the utility service connections underground, Internet and cable TV operators are paying no heed to the matter, they alleged.
During a visit, our correspondent saw that huge cables are hanging on the streets in the city’s commercial areas like Motijheel, Karwan Bazar, Mohakhali and Farmgate.
Besides, utility service cables were seen hanging on the streets in Gulshan, Banani and Dhanmondi residential areas.
People have to struggle to walk on the narrow streets in Babubazar, Islampur, Kaptan Bazar, Shyampur, Nawabpur, Wari in the old part of the city due to overhead cables.
Cables were even found lying on the ground in many city areas, obstructing movement of pedestrians.
People walk on the streets in these areas amid risk of accidents, some locals said adding that overhead cables are also destroying the beauty of the capital city.
There is also example of fatal incident due to electrocution from these cables. If a fire takes place because of these cables, there is possibility of great disaster.
Sources said a huge number of overhead Internet cables lie inoperative in many areas. If any cable is found faulty, ISP company replaces it without removing the faulty one.
“This is how jungle of overhead cables is increasing day by day,” the sources added.
Rima Afroz, a private university student in Dhanmondi, said, “I avoid walking on footpath due to overhead cables.
“Accidents may take place any time as there is a lot of cables hanging on the footpath. Earlier, I sustained injuries twice as my leg got entangled with cables,” she added.
In 2009, the government took an initiative to have all types of wire, including dish and Internet cables installed underground like many modern cities.
Under the Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) project, licences was given to two organisations – fiber@home and summit communications - to set up infrastructure for managing underground operations.
At that time, it was decided that various cable and ISPs will provide their service through underground cables.
Though, almost all the government organisations have installed cables under the ground, most of the wires of cable operators and ISPs remain on the streets overhead.
Internet Service Providers (ISP) and Nationwide Transmission and Telecommunication Network (NTTN) operators have been blaming each other over the matter.
ISP owners say NTTN operators are not actively working to increase the number of source points from where ISPs get their supply of Internet bandwidth while NTTN operators allege that the ISPs have no interest to install cables underground.
Contacted, Engineer Bikash Dewan, Managing Director of Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC), said, “We often conduct drives to disconnect optical fibre and DSL cables of different operators as they used electricity pole without prior permission.”
“A feasibility study and preparation of detailed design and project report for underground cabling work are going on,” he added.
DPDC has already initiated an underground cabling work in the city’s Dhanmondi area, he said adding, “Overhead power lines will gradually be shifted underground.”
Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (DESCO) sources said to secure the power distribution system, the work of underground cabling work has already started.
Internet Service Providers Association Bangladesh (ISPAB) General Secretary Emdadul Hoque, said, “Two NTTN are doing monopoly business. They are charging very high as there is no regulation for pricing.”
“The two NTTN companies do not have adequate distribution points. As a result, the internet service providers are compelled to provide connections to different organisations through overhead cables,” he said.
He also said “The internet service providers give connections through overhead cables due to shortcomings of NTTN companies. We call for increasing the number of NTTN companies”
SM Anwar Parvez, former president of Cable Operators' Association of Bangladesh (COAB) echoed the same.