Illegal billboards choke port city

September 30, 2012

Thousands of illegal billboards have cluttered the port city over the years, obscuring the city’s exquisite natural landscape as the city corporation has remained
indifferent to launching a demolition drive.
Hoardings hide beautiful buildings, religious and historical places and parks. Many are even placed on pavements obstructing pedestrians.
Advertising structures have shot up at different places, including the CEPZ, Wasa and GEC intersections, Agrabad, Choumuhani, Tigerpass, Lalkhan Bazar, Jamal Khan,
Kazir Dewri, Muradpur, Outer Stadium and on the stretch from the Naval Academy to the airport.
According to the data of Chittagong City Corporation (CCC), there are 8,451 authorised advertisement boards in the city, of which 5,678 are billboards.
However, the number of illegal hoardings is around 12,000, a CCC official said seeking anonymity.
Some politically influential figures in league with several CCC high-ups are continuing the illegal activity, complained another official.
Sources at CCC said the authorities for a long time did not have any policy on installing billboards. It was only in April last year when the corporation at a meeting
chaired by Mayor Manjur Alam approved a policy in this regard.
According to the rules, no hoarding can be erected by covering aesthetic buildings, historical constructions, murals or sculptures and government buildings. It also
stipulates that there will be no hoardings on pavements.
Visiting the city, this correspondent found at least 40 billboards on the pavements on both the sides of the road stretching from Lalkhan Bazar to Tigerpass
intersection.
Every day after dark, new pillars and structures are being built on the sidewalks for hanging digital banners, complained residents of Lalkhan Bazar.
Nowadays it is almost impossible to go jogging due to the pillars on the sidewalks, lamented local resident Mohammad Harun.
Kamrul Islam, a resident of Patenga, said, “Tourists come here to enjoy the natural beauty of the river Karnaphuli, but billboards erected along the road between the
airport and the Naval Academy area obstruct their vision.”
Talking to The Daily Star, Engr Ali Ashraf, chairman of Bangladesh Institute of Planners (Chittagong chapter), questioned, “We pay tax to the city corporation, and why
should we be deprived of the greenery and beauty of the city?”
“The CCC is allowing too many hoardings just to make money, sacrificing the city’s prospects of becoming a popular tourist hub.”
He suggested that the corporation think of alternative ways to earn revenue and penalise advertising firms for flouting the related rules.
Contacted by this newspaper, Abul Mansur, chief inspector (advertisement) of the CCC, said they would carry out an inspection visit shortly to spot illegal hoardings.
CCC Magistrate Joynal Abdin said the corporation will soon launch a drive to remove 90 illegal billboards and neon signs identified earlier.
Asked about the illegal advertising structures, Mohiuddin Bachhu, adviser to the ad firm owners’ association, said the corporation should first prove that it did not
permit the ad firms to install the billboards. “If any illegal hoarding is spotted, the authority can remove those.”
Despite making repeated attempts, this newspaper could not reach Mayor Manjur Alam over the phone for his version on the issue.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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