Dhaka is the second least liveable city of the world, only one notch ahead the war-ravaged Syria’s Damascus, in terms of infrastructure as most of the aspects of living are severely absent here, shows an annual global survey of liveable cities.
The Global Liveability Index 2018 of British-based The Economist Intelligence Unit also shows that Bangladesh slipped two steps down to be ranked 139th among 140 cities this year in comparison with previous year.
Urban planners have blamed unplanned growth, lack of proper governance,
planning as well as bad condition of public transport, housing, health, water-stagnation, poor drainage and waste management and others for this sordid living condition in Dhaka city.
They mention that efficient transport facilities, smooth supply of gas, electricity and water and sewage management have become elusive for the capital’s inhabitants.
Shrinking open spaces for recreation and environmental pollution have made life more difficult for over 10 million people living in 269 square kilometre area with inadequate infrastructures.
‘It is true that living condition of Dhaka is deteriorating,’ Professor Nazrul Islam, chairman of Centre for Urban Studies, says.
‘The condition of transport system, drainage system, waste management and others is worsening day by day,’ he mentions.
Former urban and regional planning professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Sarwar Jahan blames unplanned growth and lack of coordinated and efficient governance system for the current condition of Dhaka.
The research and analysis division of The Economist Group, a sister concern of The Economist newspaper, in its release titled ‘Global Liveability Ranking’, ranks 140 cities in terms of their urban quality of life based on assessments of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Dhaka with its overall score of 38 out of ideal 100 stands 139th this year, only left behind by war-torn Damascus.
The ranks provide a score of 1–100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal. On stability, Dhaka scored 50 while in healthcare, its score is 29.2, in culture and environment 40.5, in education 41.7 and in infrastructure 26.8.
The index also shows that Senegal’s Dakar ranked 131th, Algeria’s Algiers 132th, Cameroon’s Douala 133th, Libya’s Tripoli 134th, Zimbabwe’s Harare 135th, Papua New Guinea’s Port Moresby 136th, Pakistan’s Karachi 137th and Nigeria’s Lagos at 138th position.
The rankings of cities like Damascus, Karachi and Tripoli suggest that conflicts are responsible for many of the lowest scores, as per the index report.
This is not only because stability indicators have the highest single scores but also because factors defining stability can spread to have an adverse effect on other categories.
For example, conflict will not just cause disruption in its own right, it will also damage infrastructure, overburden hospitals and undermine the availability of goods, services and recreational activities, it adds.
Unavailability of adequate infrastructure is also responsible for many of the lowest scores. This is particularly visible in the ranks of cities like Dhaka, Harare, Douala and Dakar, it reports.
For the first time in this survey’s history, Austria’s capital, Vienna, ranks as the most liveable cities, displacing Australia’s Melbourne from the top spot, ending a record of seven consecutive years at the top position.
Vienna scored a near-ideal 99.1 out of 100 and Melbourne scored 98.4.
Japan’ Osaka stands third, Canada’s Calgary fourth, Australia’s Sydney fifth, Canada’s Vancouver sixth, Canada’s Toronto seventh, Japan’s Tokyo eighth, Denmark’s Copenhagen ninth and Australia’s Adelaide tenth in this year’s ranking.
Dhaka stood 137th out of 140 cities in 2017 index and it was the second least liveable city in the world in 2014 and 2015.
Urban planner Nazrul Islam says people are migrating to the capital of Dhaka at a rate of three per cent per annum, aggravating the problems of citizens as they are increasing pressure on transport, schooling, healthcare, water, gas and other amenities.
World Bank in July 2017 said that 36 per cent of the country’s urban population living in Greater Dhaka had become one of the world’s most densely populated cities.
‘Based on current trends, Dhaka will have more than 35 million people by 2035,’ World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan had then said in a statement.
Dhaka’s urban development failed to keep pace with the city’s rapid growth, resulting in a messy and uneven urbanization process, it said.
‘Lack of adequate planning has led to congestion, poor liveability, and vulnerability to floods and earthquakes. Many residents, including the 3.5 million slum dwellers, often lack access to basic services, infrastructure, and amenities,’ World Bank said in the statement.
Nazrul says that urban poor do not have health and education service at an expected level.
In the last 10 years, average traffic speed dropped from 21 km/hour to 7 km/hour, only slightly above the average walking speed. Congestion in Dhaka eats up 3.2 million working hours per day, the WB added.
Between 1995 and 2005, road surface in Dhaka increased by only five per cent, while population increased by 50 per cent and traffic by 134 per cent, it said.
With a population density of 44,500 people per square kilometre, Dhaka was the most crowded city on the planet, UN Habitat data showed in May 2017.
Dhaka ranked second on a global list of cities with worst air pollution, which claims 122,400 lives in Bangladesh a year, according to the State of Global Air Report 2017 came out on February that year by Boston-based Health Effects Institute.
School education in Dhaka is heavily dependent on private sector as there are 345 primary schools, 36 secondary schools and seven colleges, run by the government, are proving too inadequate for the huge population.
City dwellers also complain that they need to pay a lot to get treatment from private hospital and clinics in absence of inadequate public health services.
One of the Dhaka north city corporation panel mayors Alayea Sarwar said that those who released the index must have prepared it after much thoughts but situation in Dhaka was changing.
‘We are working on improving amenities for city dwellers. Works to free illegally grabbed canals, footpaths, reorganise public transport services and others are going on,’ she said.
‘But we cannot change Dhaka overnight,’ she added.
Dhaka south city corporation mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon did not pick phone and answer text message till 8:00pm after several attempts.
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