Ahead of tomorrow's two city corporation polls, promises have been flowing in aplenty to make Dhaka a problem-free, modern and liveable city.
Mayoral candidates of both the ruling Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) while speaking at public rallies and press meets have made all the pledges in the world to transform Dhaka virtually into a paradise.
But residents, to be honest, are not pinning much hope on all these electoral pledges. For they know even with all good intentions and sincerity, it would not be possible on the part of newly elected mayors to materialise a few promises that matter most in transforming Dhaka into a liveable city.
The incumbent and past mayors of Dhaka city, elected or not, had also made many tall promises. But living conditions in Dhaka city have turned worse over the years. It has been adjudged as one of the worst liveable cities on earth for consecutive years by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in recent time.
The number one problem facing the city is the population pressure. Whatever infrastructures available have almost collapsed because of an ever-growing population. None knows for sure when and how the long procession of people bound for the capital would stop or drop.
It is important to have effective plans to discourage people to migrate to Dhaka from different parts of the country. Generation of enough employment opportunities and availability of modern and improved educational, medical, recreational facilities in places across the country can help stop or largely reduce the unabated migration of people to Dhaka.
The process of urbanisation is on, but it has been happening in an unplanned manner. The people living in other parts of the country are migrating to Dhaka either in search of employment or for better living conditions. Thus, they are contributing to further worsening of the environment of Dhaka.
Still, some improvements in living condition in the capital city are possible. And to make that happen, what is needed in the first place is coordination among the agencies responsible for providing services to the residents.
But, unfortunately, the lack of coordination among the service providers remains one of the key problems facing the city. It is almost a free-for-all situation. In the absence of coordination, the development works of all the relevant agencies do suffer, financially or otherwise.
Every entity involved in city development is more eager to demonstrate its independence and power. In such a situation, the city corporations are the worst-affected. That is why the idea of 'city government' was mooted on a number of occasions in the past. The present mayoral candidates are also in favour of ensuring coordination through every possible arrangement.
The incumbent minister for local government and rural development the other day said he would discuss the issue of greater coordination among the service- providing agencies after the city corporation polls.
Such assurances did come from high places on many occasions in the past. But the situation as far as coordination among service agencies is concerned has remained unchanged. Hopefully, this time the LGRD minister would not disappoint the city's inhabitants.
Ensuring coordination among service-providing agencies in Dhaka city remains a tricky issue. The question of exercising authority by a number of government ministries, heads of these agencies and city corporation mayors would figure prominently here. None will be willing to cede their respective power. So, an innovative approach is needed here to appease all the parties and meet the basic goal of coordination.
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