Published:  02:05 AM, 18 July 2017

Roots of city sufferings

Roots of city sufferings

One of the oldest cities that developed on the pride of glorious heritage, Dhaka has nowadays become an inhabitable city in the world. The name of Dhaka has been coming up continuously in the list of ineligibility for living for many years. The population of this city is increasing every day. The sufferings of people are multiplying with the growing number of population.

There is no solution to many problems like traffic chaos, water-logging, public transport crisis, dilapidated roads and mosquito menace. Even, there is no footpath for people. But there is no shortage of promise to make the city a 'Singapore'. There are arrangements for spending money in the name of development, but to no effect.

A total of 230 cities were selected for the New York-based organization Mercer's eighteenth quality of life ranking last year. Among them, Dhaka ranked 214, ten notches down from its previous year's position. Vienna topped the list of the most liveable cities while Baghdad stood at the lowest position.

In the Annual Livability Ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Dhaka has been ranked as the second least livable city. In the latest Habitat report of the United Nations, Dhaka is referred to as one of the world's most densely  populated cities.. Almost all the city dwellers have been suffering equally. Sadeq Khan, a private service holder who was migrated to Dhaka three years back with huge aspirations to work in the capital. "But now I feel the pinch in every step," he said.

He said he struggles a lot to get out of his home in Rayer Bazar every morning as the roads are unusable due to rampant digging over the last several months. Then he is forced to battle to get a bus for going to his Motijheel office. After getting into a bus, he waits in the traffic jam for hours. Sometimes, ignoring rains, he reaches the office after crossing the knee-deep water. After returning from office with much tiredness, there is no peace at home. Huge garbage is piled up near the house. Mosquitoes attack at day and night. There is no relief anywhere. He said he is now out to leave Dhaka to stay well.

Traffic chaos: According to both commoners and experts, traffic congestion is one of the most common causes of sufferings in the city. For many years, the government agencies implement various projects to resolve the traffic congestions, but with not much benefit. At present, the average speed of vehicles in the city has come down to just six and a half kilometers per hour. There is also a severe crisis of quality public transport.

Experts say traffic congestion in the capital eats up around Tk 20,000 crore a year. Some 32 lakh business hours are also lost to the curse every day.  Prof Akter Mahmud of Jahangirnagar University's Urban and Regional Planning Department made the comments, citing the Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP) of 2016, at a program in September last year. Quoting the report, he said only 400km road in Dhaka has footpath although it is a compulsory part of the road. Moreover, around 40 percent of the footpaths are occupied by street vendors, shops, garbage bins and construction materials.

Water-logging: It has become a perennial problem for the city residents. It is now quite a common scenario that an hour of heavy downpour can brought the city to near the collapse.  Mosquito menace: Chikungunya, which is transmitted to human bodies by infected Aedes mosquito, started spreading in the capital several months ago. 

In the first week of last month, the Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) released a report where it identified 23 areas in the city as most risky. Those areas include Uttara-4, Uttara-9, Middle Badda, Gulshan-1, Lalmatia, Pallabi, Maghbazar, Malibagh, Rampura, Tejgaon, Banani, Nayatola, Kuril, Pirerbagh, Rayer Bazar, Shyamali, Monipuripara, Mohammadpur, Mohakhali, Mirpur-1 and Korail Slum.

Dilapidated roads: Starting from the main road of the capital, most of the alleyways are now in a very bad condition. In the name of development in the absence of unplanned efforts and irresponsibility of contractors, the city dwellers' sufferings have reached the peak.

In some places, the road was cut in such a way that it is impossible for people to travel. That is why many accidents happen every day.   Experts and city commuters said the absence of coordination among the agencies implementing development projects has brought the traffic to its knees apart from flushing public money down the drain.

Footpaths occupation: About 65 percent of the capital's total walkways are illegally occupied by street hawkers creating a severe civic problem for the passersby, whereas the city corporations have failed to deal with the issue till the date.  

Actually, the city footpaths are now used as the alternative markets for all sorts of goods.  Sources at the two city corporations told The Asian Age that those street hawkers, vendors and permanent shops have occupied around 108 kilometers of the total 163 kilometers of walkways in various ways.

While visiting different parts of the city on Monday, this correspondent witnessed that most of the portions of footpaths, especially adjacent to important busy roads, have gone under the grip of illegal occupiers. A recent study conducted by Work for Better Bangladesh Trust (WBBT) revealed that only 18 percent of the capital's existing footpaths are suitable for walking while the rest remains unusable due to car parkings, hawkers, vendors and waste.

Waste mismanagement: It is bad enough that the piling of garbage on the sides of roads all across the city has now become regularized. But the burning of garbage on the wayside of Sadarghat-Gabtoli Road on the Buriganga in broad daylight simply takes the level of mismanagement by city planners a step further.

Experts say all the smoke and stench diffused from burning garbage on the side of the road is not only undesirable, but is harmful to public health.  Dhaka is already suffering from astronomically high levels of air pollution. A number of 37,000 Bangladeshis die every year from diseases related to it, according to the WHO. Doctors say that the number of patients suffering from chest and respiratory diseases because of air pollutants are also on the rise.

According to the World Bank survey, Dhaka city is producing 7,000 tons of waste every day. City corporations' have 7,500 cleanliness staff. A cleanliness worker remains for every 1,000 permanent city residents.

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