It was 6:15pm on Monday. Numerous people sitting on benches in front of the restaurant adjacent to the customs at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in the capital ignited mosquito coils by or in front of their feet.
Incense and smokeless coils were burning not only at the restaurants but also at the terminal and canopy gates of the airport to repel mosquitoes as the evening approached.
Tajul Islam, who came from Joypurhat’s Panchbibi to see off his Dubai-bound son, was waiting in front of the Terminal-2 of the airport. His son went to undergo coronavirus test. “The whole airport area is full of mosquitoes. I’ve tried to kill those but it’s impossible to kill so many mosquitoes,” he said.
Indicating to his expanded hands, he said, “If you keep your hands stationary, a swarm of mosquitoes will come and bite you.”
The mosquito menace has turned intolerable in the country’s biggest international airport. However, the authorities concerned tried to avoid responsibilities for the nuisance instead of taking any effective measures to address it.
The HSIA authorities said they are cleansing the area on a regular basis while Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) provides all necessary pesticides and equipment.
HSIA Executive Director Group Captain AHM Tauhid-ul Ahsan claimed that there is no breeding ground for mosquitoes or reservoir inside the airport.
DNCC Chief Executive Officer Selim Reza said they cleaned water bodies adjacent to the airport area and supplied vehicle-mounted fogger machines to destroy mosquito breeding grounds. “We extend all logistic support when the airport authorities seek. They have to conduct mosquito control drive by their own. Our workers don’t have the access to the airport,” he said.
However, passengers and their relatives have been suffering immensely due to the mosquito menace although the authorities claimed to have taken measures to kill mosquitoes.
Mosquito infestation is nothing new at the Dhaka airport. The mosquito problem turns serious during every winter. A Malaysian Airlines flight was delayed by more than two hours due to a disturbing situation caused by mosquitoes at HSIA on February 22, 2018.
The situation deteriorated to such an extent that the High Court on March 12, 2019 asked the authorities to explain as to why their indifference and negligence in ending mosquito trouble at the airport would not be declared illegal.
The mosquito infestation has turned worse at the airport this year. Though the problem is less severe during the daytime, the passengers become restless due to mosquito bites in the evening and night.
That is why incense is being used at the airport in the evening along with repellents to kill mosquitoes.
Passengers and their relatives said the airport authorities’ initiatives are hardly adequate to address the mosquito menace.
They alleged that the mosquito situation at the country’s biggest international airport is completely intolerable.
Mosquito infestation was also seen at Canopy-1 in front of the arrival terminal. Hafsa Abedin, who returned from Kolkata with her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter and husband, was waiting for a car.
Expressing her displeasure, she said, “I’m disgusted by the mosquito bites here. Mosquitoes are biting me, but that’s not my concern. I’m worried about my little daughter. We don’t deserve such a terrible situation at the prime airport of the country.”
While visiting the two terminals and two canopies at HSIA on Monday, it was found that incense was burning in front of the gates of the terminals and canopies to repel mosquitoes.
In addition, many passengers and their relatives ignited coils to get relief from mosquito bites.
HSIA Executive Director Ahsan said, “We’re not sitting idle. The airport authorities work throughout the year to control mosquitoes.”
“We clean bushes and drains, and destroy mosquito larvae. Insecticide is given with larvicide in the morning and fogging machine is used in the afternoon. Besides, we clean dirt,” he added.