City people’s sufferings will worsen further in the upcoming days as indiscriminate road digging and channel grabbing continue giving rise to fears of severe water logging in the coming monsoon.
With a sorry state already prevailing across the city with dilapidated roads dotted with potholes, city people will experience the worst condition as most of the roads may remain submerged during the monsoon.
Experts envisage that water logging and traffic congestion will take a serious turn as the authorities concerned will not be able to complete the ongoing development works in different parts of the city before the rainy season.
In addition, dumping of solid waste in canals and the filling up of sewerage lines with dust, construction materials and garbage, will result in severe water logging and terrible traffic jams.
While visiting different city areas, this correspondent found city roads much dilapidated in most of the parts from Airport to Uttara connecting Tongi, Mirpur 10 to Agargaon, 60 feet road connecting Mirpur to Agargoan, Paltan, Press Club, Kajla to Middyabari of Jatrabari, Kamalapur to Arambagh, Mugda to Manda and Bansree to Demra Staff Quarters, due to construction work.
“We cannot breathe properly due to dust continuously spreading from roads and piles of construction materials kept on both sides of the roads,” said Jahanara Siddika Lipy, 28, a resident of Sector number 11 of Uttara in the capital.
“Now, it has become very difficult to move through Sector numbers 4,6,7,9 and 11 of Uttara due to ongoing construction work, and the situation will be more terrible when rain starts,” she added.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) Dr Adil Mohammed Khan told Bangladesh Post, “City people have been suffering a lot for years due to ongoing mega projects (Metro Rail, Bus Rapid Transit) in Dhaka. At the same time, road digging and construction work of other projects in different areas have worsened the sufferings.”
He also said, “Most of the existing city canals have become blocked by garbage as well as grabbing. Besides, we have not seen any initiative of WASA or other government organizations to increase the channels of sewerage network. So, this year, the city dwellers will face more severe waterlogging and traffic congestion than in other years.”
According to a recent study conducted by BIP, some 82 percent of the capital is covered in concrete, compared to about 65 percent two decades ago.
The study shows that concrete coverage of the city hampers absorbing rainwater by the soil, posing a serious threat to an already worsening situation.
“We are living in an unlivable city. Waterlogging in the rainy season due to filled up canals and defective drainage system and sewerage has become a menace,” Mahbub Hasan, a resident of Manda area, told Bangladesh Post.
He said that Dhaka traffic has turned from bad to worse in 10 years, and the water logging problem keeps returning more severely during every monsoon.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Dhaka among the least liveable cities in the world.
In the latest ranking, Dhaka’s position is 139th out of 140 cities. Dhaka is also the least livable city in the South Asian region.
Apart from this, Dhaka is among the world’s most polluted cities, with air pollution levels eight times higher than those in the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation.
Saif Rehman, a banker who lives in Mirpur area said, “A decade back we could go to parks and walk on the roads. But now, we cannot walk on the roadside due to dust from road digging and strewn construction materials. Besides, some of the parks remain closed due to security issues.”
He also said, “The city authorities were unable to address mosquito problems that led to the dengue epidemic in July last year. I think in this rainy season, the situation will be more serious as City Corporation has already announced six of its wards as vulnerable.”
WASA Managing Director (MD) Taqsem A Khan told Bangladesh Post, “Dhaka has no natural flood detention zone. A city must have at least 12 percent water detention area whereas Dhaka has only 2 percent. In order to preserve the excessive water to prevent flooding, we have created artificial water detention areas but water cannot reach due to blockade in different lines.”
About indiscriminate road digging at different areas, he said, “I cannot say about City Corporation’s ongoing development work. LGRD Ministry gave us directive and we are working in a coordinated way. City Corporations are doing their part and we are implementing our part.”
About the probability of severe water logging, WASA MD said, “We have taken adequate measures to tackle water logging.”
However, he did not roll out the possibility in case of heavy rainfall. About road digging, Additional Chief Engineer of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mohammad Asaduzzaman said, “The authorities concerned allow a utility provider organization to dig a road only when it gives confirmation to repair the roads. But, in most cases, they don’t repair the dug up roads properly. They keep sand, bricks and garbage beside the roads after completing their work.”
Additional Chief Engineer of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Sharif Uddin said, “The development works including construction of roads, sewerage line, pavement and road safety are underway in various sectors of Uttara. We have to take some time to maintain the technical quality of the work.”
“Our estimated time to finish the construction work of roads, footpaths and canals under a project is by May 2020. We will try to finish the task before the set time,” he added.