The gradual re-occupation of the Tejgaon-Satrasta Road by truck and covered van owners is set to foil a noble venture. Although viewed as an initiative by the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), it finally emerged as an individual challenge taken up by the then DNCC mayor, late Annisul Haque. The daunting task of clearing the road of encroachment by a section of transport owners is still fresh in people's memories. For successfully accomplishing the job the mayor earned a lot of kudos. It also displayed his courage and unflinching commitment to accomplishing a goal. Before its reopening after dismantling the truckers' illegal terminal, it was an unspeakable ordeal for the commuters using the critical road for decades. The road is vital, as it connects the Farmgate-Karwan Bazar area to a vast tract comprising Mohakhali-Banani-Niketan.
That a great initiative undertaken by a venturesome city guardian turns futile after his demise beggars belief. It's a sad commentary on the state of the massive attempts by the authorities concerned to free public places from illegal occupants. The last three years stand witness to how scores of eviction programmes undertaken by the two city corporations go awry. Such drives sparked stiff resistance from the encroachers backed by unscrupulous quarters, and lingered as protracted face-offs. The repeated eviction drives by the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and the eventual return of the hawkers to the Gulistan area's footpaths tell a grim tale of encroachment.
Mayor Annisul had embarked on his task with an unwavering resolve to free Dhaka north of the scourge of encroachments. Apparently, he staked his security and safety in conducting the job. Beside freeing the Tejgaon truck stand from powerful occupants, he also focused on some other hazardous traffic joints in the city. The DNCC's successful drives to end unauthorised parking of buses on roads in front of the Gabtoli and Mohakhali bus terminals also proved to be two outstanding achievements. They were followed by freeing the stretches in Uttara-Abdullahpur and Pallabi of the menace of illegal bus-truck parking. The slow return of the arrogant truck and covered van owners to Tejgaon and illegal parking of buses in front of Mohakhali bus terminal cannot be taken casually. If the syndicates can get away with their attempts to stage a comeback, this may create a dangerous precedent for others to follow. The city's past record of seeing a civic venture operating for long is hardly comfortable. Scores of remedial drives are conducted and infrastructure built --- all followed by spectacular openings. At the end of the day, the members of the public find themselves hoodwinked, thanks to faulty planning, mismanagement and fund crunch.
Some projects are, however, effectively put in place. Implemented either by the city corporations or government agencies, few of them earn the ability to survive longer enough to benefit the city residents. Public disillusionment ensue. The spectre of return of the Tejgaon-Satrasta Road to its earlier plight is one of the many that characterise Dhaka. It stems from the fear of a venture's eventual failure. For a city looking to the days of emerging as an ideal one, such retrogression is unacceptable, and unfortunate. Uncertainties over the duration of public welfare steps call for stringent preventive regulations.
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