Dhaka, Bangladesh
Looks like a dug-up city

Looks like a dug-up city

Massive road ruptures for utility upgrading cause public woes

Mazharul Islam Mitchel Upgrading jerrybuilt networks of public utility services in the capital is a high priority long neglected. But doing it all in one go wrecked roads all around the city, causing public woes. The hard realities of both commuter transports and pedestrians facing for road shrinkages and dust are also recognized by the executives involved with the works. Excavating roads throughout the monsoon season every year has become a regular phenomenon. There has been a lack of coordination between the city corporations and utility-service providers of the government. So, the city roads are being dug up anytime anywhere, observed many city-dwellers. The organisations conducting such digging are WASA, DPDC, BTCL and DCCs, and it seems to be a never-ending process. Karwanbazar Zonal Executive Officer (ZEO) of DNCC S M Ajior Rahman agreed on the situation. He said, "We believe it is a big problem but what can we do? Every utility- service provider has to work for their maintenance. Basically it is a continuous process. But we impose timeframe to finish their work quickly. We also try to avoid the road excavation in monsoon." DNCC Chief Engineer Brigadier General Mohammad Syeed Anwarul Islam said they had taken various steps to solve the problem. He said all utilities' lines and electricity poles will be shifted to midline or beside the footpaths from roads. They have taken Tk 100 crore from government for the shifting. They have also demanded more funds for this work. "We could not shift immediately due to illegal occupancy and the setting up of bazars on footpaths. But we are also taking steps to rescue the footpaths and city-corporation land. We have taken the challenge of removing this problem," he added. The Chief Eng also assured that the digging all around the city would end in November- December period of this year. Diggings affect vehicular movement and it takes a hugely longer time for one to go from one place to another, thus wasting valuable man hours. Sometimes the residents of some areas cannot also use transports like rickshaws as alternative roads are unsuitable, spot surveys showed. The situation takes a turn for the worse during rainy season as travelling on foot through the muddy and slippery roads is unsafe. Then rickshaw-pullers press for more fares. Pedestrians lose their balance on the road and fall into potholes. Auto-rickshaws slipping into holes is a common occurrence. Motorcycles falling into the ditch are also not rare. Experts opine that the July-June financial year is a stumbling-block for completing development works in time. If financial year is calculated from January to December, it would be easier and more convenient to finish the task before the rainy season. The situation has now taken a turn for the worse for a lack of coordination among the departments concerned, alleged the city-dwellers. One agency completes construction or repair of a road, then another starts the digging of the same road, leaving it into a shabby condition. The roads connecting Agargoan, Taltola, Shewrapara and Mirpur witness huge traffic congestions due to the digging and piling of construction materials on roads. Commuters in the area are struggling due to the ongoing road digging that started in November last year for implementing government's metro-rail project. People living in the area are to face traffic impasse every day, and that takes extra hours to reach their destinations. Rakibul Hassan, a resident of Shewrapara, told this correspondent that every day he gets stuck in traffic gridlock for hours on his way to office at Karwanbazar. Khairul, a shop owner at Shewrapara, said in the situation a number of accidents occur in the area every day. Flow of customers to the markets of the aforesaid areas has also declined drastically because of the ongoing traffic gridlock and dug-up roads. During a visit to the area and other city areas Saturday, this correspondent found different utility agencies upgrading their supply lines under or beside the roads. All the works are going on at a snail's pace. Works on underground pipelines of utility services are also going on in Mirpur, Kalyanpur, Shyamoli, Mohammadpur and Pallabi areas at a snail's pace, causing huge sufferings to members of the public. Many commuters in the areas came up with similar tales to tell and urged the government to take initiative to put an end to the suffering. Apart from the areas, the residents of Gulshan, North Badda, Madya Badda, Rampura, Banani, Gabtoli, Mohammadpur, Jatrabari and some other parts of the capital are also suffering for road digging. Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, Dhaka Power Distribution Company, Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited, Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited and the city corporations dig and fill the roads under their jurisdiction by turns. During visits to different areas, this correspondent found different utility agencies upgrading their supply lines under or beside the roads. All the works are going on at a slow pace. Nobody knows when and how the digging will end as the utility providers keep their eyes shut on people's sufferings and lack of coordination among themselves, many city- dwellers alleged. The entire area got submerged and muddy, creating severe traffic congestion and hampering the movement of pedestrians for just a moderate spell of rain. Hakim, a showroom owner at Malibagh intersection, said at least 10-12 rickshaw accidents are occurring in the area every day because of the underwater holes. Junayed Hossain, an employee of a private office in Mouchak, said: "The situation is now chaotic, and it gets worse during rush hours, especially with bad and dug-up roads filled with water and mud due to the indifference of the flyover-construction firm and other development agencies to public sufferings." He adds: "We are exposed to the unchecked discharge of dust and severe air pollution from the flyover, and other construction works." As a part of the Metro Rail project, the authorities are relocating underground pipelines of utility services from Agargaon to Mirpur-10 Road. Besides, the works of underground pipelines of utility services are also running in other parts of the Mirpur areas at a snail's pace. Mosharraf Hossain, an employee of a government office in Paltan, who resides in Mirpur, said it takes him more than two hours to reach the office.

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