Endless road diggings
A feature of Dhaka city is the endless digging of roads that go on in it round the year. But the diggings are also found to be more frequent when the dry season ends and the wet season comes nearer. Even common sense should suggest why it is so important to start and complete all road diggings in the dry season. The dug up roads turn treacherous for commuters –with rains arriving– from mud and the water filled dug up sections of the roads. Besides, the costs are also escalated while doing such works in the wet season from interruptions due to weather conditions and related troubles.
Citizens of Dhaka have always demanded an end to these unplanned and uncoordinated never ending digging up of roads that create great annoyance, discomfort and hindrances to their normal movement and in the transportation of goods and services. But the demands and the pleadings are in vain. For the culture of too frequent road digging continues unabated and appears to have become stronger in recent days. Recent newspaper reports with photographs have highlighted that WASA lines are being laid in many parts of the city with captions saying how such activities are in the wrong season when the monsoon rains are not far away and drawing attention to road diggings which keep on taking a heavy toll by hazarding traffic movement and city life.
The diggings could be tolerated but for the reasons that these create serious problems for people. The digging and re-digging of the same road spaces never seem to end. On the one hand, the same reflects that there is no planning whatsoever and, on the other, corruption. There cannot be any requirement to dig up a road several times in the span of six months or less. But this is usually the case. With sound and coordinated planning between different utility agencies such as DESA, WASA and TNT, a road in the city may be excavated only once and all the works of the different utility agencies can be completed at one go that would make frequent re-diggings unnecessary. The citizens in that case can be spared the woes they have to suffer from the regular road diggings.
It is obvious that the repeated road diggings are mainly done because these activities have a vital relationship to the enrichment of corrupt officials and contractors. Citizens have to suffer the consequences of their pecuniary motives. They have to go on suffering agonizing traffic jams caused by mounds of earth and other debris left on the heavily used roads. There had been reports in the press about incidents when fireman could not approach a site engulfed by fire as the approach roads were dug up. Ambulances could not come up to houses to pick up critically ill patients for the same reasons. Sometimes it becomes impossible to drive up a car to the house garage because the road leading up to it has become impassable from road digging.
Will there ever be any deliverance from these sufferings ? Nobody knows. A minister of the previous government once suggested the formation of a special committee to take up the task of coordinating and regulating the activities of different utility agencies so that some sanity could be achieved in road digging activities. But it never came into existence for unknown reasons. But people would, of course, want to know why. A former mayor of the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) also proposed the idea of a metropolitan government under the DCC to be empowered to coordinate all road digging activities of the utility agencies. But that proposal also appears to have been shelved. Citizens are keen to know whether this idea can be revived, acted upon and implemented to conclusively end their sufferings on this score and also achieve better utilisation of scarce resources in the process.