Speakers tell PRI seminar

Smart city needs smart governance:

FE REPORT | Published: December 12, 2019 11:14:56 | Updated: December 12, 2019 12:39:34

Former Finance Minister A M A Muhith (centre) speaking at a seminar on 'China Smart City Experience and Lessons for Bangladesh' at the conference room of PRI in the city on Wednesday. PRI Chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar (left) and PRI Executive Director Dr Ahsan H Mansur (right) also spoke at the seminar — FE photo

Speakers at a seminar have stressed the need for introduction of smart governance and decentralised administration to successfully develop smart cities in the country.

"Good governance is crucial to the success of smart cities. Introduction of new technology or idea cannot be fruitful if the issue of governance is not there," said former finance minister AMA Muhith.

The Policy Research Institute, Bangladesh (PRI) organised the seminar titled 'China smart city experience and lessons for Bangladesh' in its conference room in the city on Wednesday.

Lin Lingang, CEO of the Kingdom Engine International, gave a presentation on 'Chinese Smart City Experience' at the seminar, with Dr Ahsan H Mansur, Executive Director of the PRI, in the chair.

Speaking as the chief guest, Mr Muhith stressed the need for decentralisation of power to ensure good governance.

All the cities and towns are being governed by the centre. This policy needs to be changed, he said.

The former minister pointed out that he introduced the district budget few years ago with a view to expediting the process of decentralising the administration.

"Our top leadership is convinced that decentralisation will bring good to city governance," Muhith said, urging all to put forward ideas on how to introduce a decentralised city administration system in the country.

He also noted that the housing and sanitation systems in the country have been improved to a great extent over the years.

In the past, cities were dominated by slums but now you will find a very few of them, he said.

Dr Ahsan H Mansur said decentralisation of power is very important in introducing smart cities.

The urban design for smart cities or townships should be home-grown and the people of the township or city concerned should prepare the design, he said.

If it is imposed from the centre, it will not be a smart move, he added.

He also mentioned that the success of any technology will depend on its adaptability and exclusiveness.

PRI Chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar highlighted the importance of the smart cities.

He said cashless transactions can reduce the incidence of corruption significantly.

Former BARVIDA president Abdul Huq suggested urgent reforms of the present city governance system, saying that the city dwellers are now living in a horrible situation.

Urban designer and architect Iqbal Habib raised the issue of adaptability and the readiness of the people to accept any new technology.

If proper governance is not there, no project can be fruitful, he said.

Former BASIS president Habibullah N Karim warned against excessive use of technology.

He proposed striking a balance between the governance and technology.

Ifty Islam, Chairman of AT Capital, in his presentation titled 'Lessons from China for Bangladesh Smart City Strategy' recommended putting people first by focusing on resolving urban problems and improving infrastructure instead of constructing shiny new buildings.

A smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies and other means to enhance the quality of life and efficiency of urban operation and services, he said.

The smart city also meets the needs of the present and future generations with regard to economic, social, environmental and cultural aspects, he said.

Mr Lingang, in his presentation, said a smart city enables convenient life for the citizens in respect of transportation, travelling, healthcare, shopping and entertaining facilities.

He also showed how automatic parking system, traffic control and smart construction method are being operated through IT-guided mechanism in Chinese smart cities.


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