City Mayors: Long on Promises, Short on Delivery | 2018-03-14 |

City Mayors: Long on Promises, Short on Delivery

Farook Ahmed     14 March, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Our beloved Dhaka city is gradually being stripped of her shine and glamour. Whichever way we swivel our eyes we see clear mark of dilapidation and denudation. She now looks like a denuded water-starved tree. The much-hyped slogan – “Clean Dhaka, green Dhaka” has miserably fallen flat. The much touted promises of our mayors now brazenly fly in the face of city-dwellers who elected them to the mayoral office with high hope that they will make the capital city a place of safety and comfort. It is our ill-luck that the most dynamic mayor (North) did not live to implement his epoch-making plans into reality. His can-do attitude filled the hearts of the city-dwellers with new hope and aspiration.  But death snatched him away from us. He left behind his straight-arrow reputation for us and for the posterity. Perhaps God does not vouchsafe long life-span to great men.

Our other mayor (South) is a young and energetic man. He has been born into a noted political family. His late father was a successful mayor of our city.  So he has both experience and political clout to do something revolutionary. Dhaka is beset with multifarious burdens. She needs a strong, committed and innovative man to disburden her. The man who ascends to the mayoral seat can ill-afford to neglect the ills and dilemmas of the city which persistently discommode the daily lives of the citizens.

Most of the roads of our city are riddled with potholes and crevices. Vehicles cannot ply or run smoothly on such broken-down roads so passengers oftentimes get terrible jolt and pain in the region of their waist and backbone. These ramshackle roads are the major cause of frequent road accidents resulting in the death and severe injury of many people. Women and school children are the regular victims of our unsafe roads. Water-logging is a tremendous predicament for the city-dwellers. Even moderate downpour submerges the whole city under knee-deep and in some places waist-deep water. Dhaka city lacks well-planned drainage system and for this reason rain water has no outlet to recede. Bad drainage system is the principal cause of our perennial water-logging. Traffic snarl-up is a daily excruciating distress and tribulation of the city residents. To be fair, most of our city roads are defective from engineering point of view. We have no underpass and overpass at most crossroads and absence of these facilities intensifies the traffic gridlock. Moreover, mechanised and non-mechanised vehicles ply side by side on the same road.

One third of many roads are illegally occupied by vendors and hawkers. These illegal occupations narrow down the space of roads causing unbearable traffic jam. These unauthorised road occupiers are protected by political backing and patronage. The Kawran Bazaar which is located close to the Hotel Sonargaon is another fountainhead of traffic tailback. This bazaar should immediately be shifted to another convenient place. This measure may greatly ease the traffic congestion across the city. Withdrawal of old and rickety vehicles and introduction of mass transports will obviously curtail traffic snafu. The grace of Dhaka city is horribly marred by swarm of beggars who roam about every street from dawn to dusk. These mendicants with their begging bowls present a very dismal picture of our historical city. Natives and foreigners are continually pestered by them. No mayor did ever take steps to free our capital city from the menace of the mendicants. A large number of hermaphrodites reside in the city. They are another nuisance for the city-dwellers. They forcibly extract money from passers-by, passengers and shopkeepers.

We observe with great awe that residential areas like Dhanmondi, Banani, Gulshan and Uttara are being illegally converted into commercial hubs. Over the years a large number of unauthorized hospitals, clinics, hotels, supermarkets and high-rise commercial buildings have been set up in these residential areas. No mayor intervened to stop these illegal constructions in these residential areas. Residents of these localities now live in unsafe and health-hazard atmosphere. Numerous homeless beggars live in the city. They sleep on pavements and walkways. They defecate late in the night or in the wee hours in the uncovered drains making the whole city virtually open toilets. These then spread many diseases, foul the air and contaminate underground water. Dhaka city has no eco-park. Earlier mayors promised to build ecological park in the city but their promises were never materialised. When election nears, mayoral candidates make mouthful of promises and when they are elected, they renege on all their pledges. Our Dhaka city lacks even minimum parking facilities. That is why we see that different types of vehicles are parked on the streets. This causes the traffic jam more acute and awful. Dhaka city needs construction of sufficient numbers of parking lots and parking bays to wriggle the citizens out of horrendous traffic snarl-up. We have automated traffic signal lights on many intersections and crossroads. These signal lights are not properly synchronised with the exigency of traffic flow on corresponding roads. This miscalculation of timings of signal lights exacerbates the traffic jumble. Though many mayors promised to phase out rickshaws from the main thoroughfares, yet still we see rickshaws dominate the roads as before. Pedestrians have no space to walk as all footpaths have gone under the illegal occupation of vendors and hawkers. Mayors give us hope and promises and we believe them only to be