The nine-year long freeze on completion of the Jatrabari kitchen super-market as published in the media on Sunday cannot but be agonising and somewhat heart-breaking. The difference of opinion between the two city corporations of the capital city on this particular issue only goes to amplify the complex system of working not only of the bureaucracy, but also at times between people's representatives. Both the city corporations that encompass Dhaka are now run by elected persons; and it seems ironic that a proposed public facility erected with the tax-payers' money would remain thirty percent incomplete for nearly a decade because serious consideration has not been given to the basic reasons of the issue. It has been reported that part of the expenses of this kitchen super-market has been incurred by the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), while after bifurcation in 2011, this proposed facility fell under the jurisdiction of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC). And now the DNCC wants reparation of its money before it would offer permission for further development on the work.
This last issue brings to the fore the apparent intricate method of project-work in the country that if explained properly appears only simple and easy. Having started seventeen years ago, when the city was not divided yet, as part of a single project that envisioned erection of three such markets in various places so that the Karwan Bazar kitchen supermarket could be shifted away from the city's heart of office and commercial area, the undertaking cannot still claim completion for more reasons than one. The other two at Mohakhali and Ameenbazar have already been completed, but only just, although they took six more years for completion instead of the target date of 2010. Interestingly neither of them has been put into use as a strong lobby is seemingly obstructing the intended shifting, which was the initial aim of the project. However, the city has grown ever since the start date of the project in 2006; and even without the shifting, these would be needed as consumers would prefer a pucca edifice rather than dilapidated bazars. The money that was spent by the DNCC for the Jatrabari structure amounts to less than taka eight crore. It remains inexplicable why the DNCC was kept in charge of this part of the scheme even after bifurcation of the unified city corporation. A simple revision of the project could have avoided future complications and put the matter into perspective. Now a paltry sum of less than eight crores of taka, by City Corporation standards, has become the bone of contention, it seems.
City dwellers would hope that the two elected mayors of DNCC and DSCC, both highly enlightened and informed men, would cooperate to end the impasse. The Jatrabari structure needs immediate completion, so that if not the Karwan Bazar traders, others can be housed in all the three finished supermarkets. The issue of Karwan Bazar supermarket at the same time would need serious rethinking. It needs upgrading and reconstruction if at all to be continued at the present site. More seriousness and insight would be needed from planners, more so in case of the DNCC and the DSCC, the two vital organisations entrusted with the task of keeping the capital city exquisite. When they had undertaken the task of raising these three kitchen supermarkets, they should have first thought of more critically the difficult task of relocating the Karwan Bazar business houses, big or small. Only masonry work does not make a city liveable. It requires continued application of the mind and intellect and participation of the stakeholders, either ordinary inhabitants or traders, as also people with a vision.