The Financial Express

Widening narrow lanes and ensuring accessibility

| Updated: October 09, 2021 21:31:53

Widening narrow lanes and ensuring accessibility

It is a good piece of news. Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has finally launched a drive to widen a lane in Dhaka. The alley near the busy Bangla Motor crossing is popularly known as Bishwa Sahitya Kendra lane as the institute is located there. The 14-feet wide lane in front of the institute is not spacious enough for the movement of small vehicles like a car. Residents living on both sides of the lane have also long been suffering from the narrow passage. During celebration of an event at the Kendra, the situation turns pitiable. Walking space also is unavailable. Now widening the alley by evacuating physical structures on both sides has turned into a 20-feet lane. This will help ease the movement of vehicles and provide the necessary space for a walk.

It, however, took almost 25 years to widen the lane. Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed, founder and chairman of the Kendra, has taken the lead in this regard. He and his associates along with several residents in the locality demanded and lobbied for widening the lane. Though many influential people including ministers visited the Kendra from time to time and witnessed the plight of the narrow lane, no one cared. Many of them also assured that they will take up the matter with the relevant authorities. Finally, DSCC mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh intervened to widen the lane. By doing so, the city corporation sets an example and also proves that the local government body can do many things for the welfare of the citizens.

Nevertheless, the cost of demolishing the physical structures is high for several reasons. If the authorities launched the drive 20 years ago to widen the lane, it could be done at a lower cost. A few structures were needed to be demolished at that time. Some of the apartment buildings, constructed in the last two decades, did not keep adequate space in front or at the entry points. Now buildings have to face more damage than others although everyone will enjoy the benefit of the widened lane.

Widening a narrow lane is always difficult in Dhaka as well as in any other part of the country. In most cases, some residents don't want to sacrifice a small portion of their land for a minimum wide lane in front of their houses. They do not want to follow the law properly during construction of buildings. In some cases, they also put pressure on neighbours to follow their path by not keeping adequate space in front of their houses. Things have, however, started to change and in some places, residents willingly forego the necessary portion of their lands to make the lane wider. They are ready to accept some damages for the sake of the greater benefit in the long run.

What is more important is to keep the widened lane free from any kind of encroachment. Unfortunately, in many parts of the city, the benefits of widened roads do not go to the residents. Taking advantage of more space on both sides of the lane, street vendors set up their makeshift shops. Auto-rickshaws and motorcycles sometimes use a part of the lane as parking spots. Even some shopkeepers put their goods on the lane. All these ultimately reduce the real width of the lanes and streets in many places. So, a regular drive by the city corporation is a must to keep the lanes and streets free from any kind of encroachment.


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