Public woes compounded

April 22, 2012

Wasa embarks on rainy season as work goes on at snail’s pace
The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) has embarked on digging up 26 kilometre of road of the capital to lay utility pipelines but the work is progressing at a pathetic pace catching up the rainy season.
In addition to the misery, the Dhaka north and south city corporations (DCC) remain indifferent as usual about taking care of the roads left in a shambles by different utility agencies after development works.
For instance, the Wasa dug many roads in Uttara (sector-1, 4 and 5) last year to upgrade storm water drainage system which the DCC took a year to repair.
In March this year, the Wasa embarked on digging roads in Uttara and Gulshan which had been dug by another utility agency in February.
Thus, digging roads of the capital by different utility agencies one after another, instead of in a coordinated manner, is making public suffering perennial.
Recently, the Wasa has started digging four kilometres of road in Gulshan to lay storm sewer lines with a view to diverting polluted water from falling in Gulshan-Baridhara Lake under a Tk 50-crore project.
Three kilometres of it stretches from United Hospital to Niketan Lake while the rest one kilometre is from Gulshan-1 roundabout to the national shooting federation.
The entire development work in Gulshan that began late in February would take until June to complete, said Akhtaruzzaman, executive engineer of Wasa.
Last month, Wasa dug up roads No-86, 90, 92, 94, 96, 104, 113, 118, 123 and 126 of the area all at a time. This significantly narrowed down the motorways with trenches on one side and large concrete pipe kept on the other side occupying most to the road span.
So, vehicles on the roads are forced to run through one narrow lane on each side triggering huge traffic congestion in the area.
Asked about the work strategy, Akhtaruzzaman said the concrete pipes were so heavy that it would have been difficult for them to keep the pipes elsewhere and bring them to the site when needed.
Sitara Chowdhury, a resident of road-126, said the Wasa did not issue them any notice prior to digging up the road in front of their house.
“My husband could not go to the office by car for a week due to the road digging. I wonder what would have happened if we needed to move out in an emergency or had anyone fallen sick,” she said.
During the development work, the Wasa had to put around 100 large concrete pipes on one side of the Gulshan Avenue for a month as they did not have the permission to dig the road from the traffic department.
The Wasa dug up a large portion of Darussalam Road, stretching from Mirpur to Technical intersection, nearly four months ago to lay storm sewer line but the work remaines suspended due to the ongoing water pipeline work along Mirpur road.
Rukhsana Begum, a roadside vendor on Darussalam Road, said traffic movement there came to a complete standstill every day during the peak hours.
Hamidur Rahman, a commuter from Mirpur, said traffic gridlock due to the narrowed down road had been causing unbearable suffering to the commuters for the last several months.
During rush hours it took hours to pass through Mirpur-1 to Asad Gate, as the road had been dug in the middle for the work underground, he added.
Another project for second Sayedabad water treatment plant and installation of a 10-km supply pipelines has also added to the suffering.
Under the Tk 1,400-crore project funded by DANIDA and the government, the Wasa is laying a 5.5-km pipeline digging the Mirpur Road between Technical intersection and Panthapath.
Two-kilometre water pipeline from Tibbot in Tejgaon Industrial Area to the national shooting federation and a 2.5-km from Rampura to Malibagh are also under the project.
Site officials said it would take until June to finish the digging work.
Shahid Uddin, superintendent engineer of Wasa Drainage Circle, said a 12-kilometre work for laying storm-water pipeline started in Uttara, Mirpur, Dhanmondi, Mouchak, Shahjahanpur, Moghbazar more than two months ago and the job was to be completed by mid May.
The Wasa dug 3.5-km stretch of Dhanmondi roads No-5, 6, 7 and 9 in February to lay storm sewer lines. The work completed in a month but the DCC is yet to repair the roads.
The same length of road has been dug in Uttara and it will continue until mid-May.
Taqsem A Khan, managing director of Wasa, said they had to start digging the roads at this time of the year as DCC (north and south) permits it from November to May.
DCC officials admitting the public suffering said different agencies get project approval at different times and therefore coordination in the road-digging work was not possible.
It is true that DCC in some cases delayed in repairing the dug-up roads, they said, but for Gulshan they had started the repair work immediately after the Wasa finished its work.
Prof Shamsul Hoque of civil engineering department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology said since neighbourhoods like Gulshan had been developed in an unplanned manner — without building proper utility networks — public suffering is inevitable.
The Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) is responsible for the unplanned development, even in the cases of Uttara and Purbachal schemes, where underground utility network was not ensured before developing the housing plots, said experts.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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