QUEER it is that Dhaka city authorities, the north and the south, have so far never bought insecticides meant to kill Aedes mosquitoes, the primary vector of dengue. They have always bought insecticides to kill Culex mosquitoes. But queerer it is that the insecticides that the city authorities bought in January-April have also proved ineffective even against Culex mosquitoes. Besides, city authorities of Dhaka have hardly been known for having stepped up their mosquito control drives. This tells the tale of the ongoing dengue outbreak, with 40 having officially died of the disease in 2019 although unofficial estimate puts the figure at 100. Official records also report more than 46,000 hospital admissions with complaints of dengue infection across the country as of Wednesday. The city corporations are still reported to have spent more than Tk 300 million on controlling mosquito menace in the 2019 financial year. It is folly to have spent money on insecticides only to kill Culex mosquitoes when the Aedes mosquitoes have exposed public health to such a disaster. This appears more so as a government survey carried out in March 3–13 found a high presence of Aedes mosquito in the capital, as it happened in 2018.
But there is more to it, as New Age reported on Sunday. The Dhaka South City Corporation is reported to have bought the insecticide that the Dhaka North City Corporation rejected for being ineffective. The south city authorities, as the report says, bought the insecticide without any tender and for a price higher than what its producer offered the north city authorities. The south city authorities bought the insecticide for Tk 378 a litre from a third party while the producer offered to sell the same insecticide to the north city authorities for Tk 217 a litre. The north city authorities later bought insecticide from another company for Tk 289 a litre, which the north mayor says was substandard and was bought through a syndicate of all the city corporation officials concerned. The company at hand, however, brushes aside the allegations of the insecticide being substandard and the north mayor seeks to say that the city authorities have now obtained licence to import insecticide on their own. But what remains prickly is that the mayor knows that city officials, even though before his taking over as the corporation head, had their hands in the purchase of ineffective insecticides.
Yet, the north mayor’s resolving to import insecticide and not lifting a finger to hold to account the ‘syndicate of all the city corporation officials concerned’ beats logic. The Anti-Corruption Commission is, in such a situation, expected to investigate the purchase of insecticide by both the city corporations of Dhaka and look into other relevant issues associated with the mosquito control efforts and, on fair investigation, punish the officials responsible for the failures that caused the outbreak of dengue infection.
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