Dhaka mayors hibernating !

Rahman Jahangir | Published: November 24, 2015 21:31:50 | Updated: October 18, 2017 02:41:16

Dhaka city still sits where it has always remained in the past few years. It seems bifurcation of the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) into two --South and North-- has failed to make a visible impact on welfare of the capital except facilitating a firm grip on vote-banks in an election. Just before the city corporation polls, a Dhakaite had dreamt of a city worth living in but as days pass away, such dreams are looking elusive and illusive. One thought that one day Dhaka would erase its global recognition as the worst liveable city. But it seems it is not to be. Both the mayors now appear to be hibernating, still making tall promises although not in a loud voice. 
Just look at the pavements of Gulistan, Motijheel, Purana Paltan, Toynbee Circular Road and other roads. One cannot simply walk on footpaths and pavements. Once this writer was snubbed by a motorcycle rider on a pavement when he asked him why he rode his vehicle on the footpath instead of the road. Pat came his reply: "Uncle, why don't you ask this question to the hawker just by your side as he has set up his temporary shop here."  Several dozen hawkers set up temporary stalls of cloths and other household items on the Toynbee Circular Road.  
Opposite to the Purana Paltan police outpost, there are two make-shift shops that sell cigarettes and betel leaves. One evening, the two young boys running the shops said smilingly: "Uncle, police detained two of us for long eight hours as we were selling cigarettes and betel leaves on the wayside. The cops released us when we paid Tk 600 and allowed us to do trading here." According to reliable sources, most of the hawkers pay regularly to the police as well as the political activists and carry on their trade. Once an on-duty traffic sergeant was asked why he was looking vacant with a walkie-talkie in his hand when several buses stopped for passengers just by the side of the Purana Paltan police box causing huge traffic jam. He, instead, asked this scribe: "Do you want that I lose my job?" Most of the errant buses and mini-buses are owned by his superior bosses as well as political leaders.          
Even the ever talkative mayor of the Dhaka North City Corporation, who was often seen boasting his connection with the government up-ups, has expressed his frustration. He said eviction of grabbers of water bodies in the capital is not easy as they are very powerful. He even admitted that one of his ward commissioners himself is a land grabber. The mayor said he asked him to drop his trade that allows him to make quick money.   
On a closer scrutiny, it could be found that most of the pledges the mayors had made in their manifestos for the April 28 city corporation elections were outside legal and financial mandates of a mayor. Such promises are related to mass transport system, power plant, commuter train service, circular waterways, river and canal reclamation, land use control, housing, flood plains conservation, water-logging and uninterrupted services of water, electricity and gas. Its other jobs include waste collection and management, mosquito control, maintenance and repair of roads and footpaths, surface drains, street lighting and fighting food adulteration. None of these responsibilities has been accomplished efficiently even these days. Newspaper photos bear testimony to this. 
Sadly, the mayors have utterly failed to evict hawkers from footpaths and pavements so many months after their swearing-in and this points to their miseries caused by the powerful. After all, money matters most, often throwing their inter-personal warm relations with the government and political high-ups in to the wind.         

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