THE government in 2011 divided the Dhaka City Corporation into two entities to provide better services for citizens. In 2016, new areas were brought under the jurisdiction of the Dhaka North and the Dhaka South City Corporation considering that many areas adjacent to capital city have seen rapid urbanisation in recent past. Now, with the inclusion of new areas, the North City Corporation has 54 wards and the South City Corporation has 75 wards. Residents of the newly included areas welcomed the move hoping that they will enjoy the benefits that city corporations offer. Much to their disappointment, both the corporations have failed to develop drainage system, roads, footpaths, lamp posts, waste management system or mosquito control programmes accordingly. There are no public parks, children’s playground or community centres in these areas and the residents think their situation is even worse than villages governed by municipalities. It appears that the government has hastily incorporated new areas into city corporations without assessing needs on the ground and ensuring required resources for civic services.
According to a councillor of Matuail, which has been newly added to the South City Corporation, there is no dedicated office for civic services. Services are offered from offices scattered across the city. For birth and death registration, people go to Nagar Bhaban, for trade licences to Azimpur and for all other services to Golapbagh. The newly formed zone 7 executive officer says that they still have no offices in the respective areas and no human resources for his office. Dhaka’s north mayor says that lack of human resources and fund crisis have held them back from providing civic amenities in the areas. The response of the mayor further shows that the government, in a populist move, went ahead with the plan to include new areas without ensuring financial or human resources for the development of urban facilities. In the three years since the expansion, citizens’ needs assessment has never been a priority; the development of waste management or drainage system is non-existent. But North City Corporation officials have confirmed that they have completed holding tax assessment for 67,000 houses in the newly added areas. This means that citizens would pay holding tax in view of the supposed upgrade even when they do not get the services. The quality of services in old city corporation areas is also worryingly poor. City officials are known to have been involved in corruption. Waste management and drainage system are on the verge of collapse.
In the prevailing situation, promises of the government that it will make Dhaka green and liveable proves rhetorical. The government must not implement any decision without assessing the needs and ensuring fund for an effective implementation of decisions as evidenced in the expansion process. It must immediately allocate fund and human resources to ensure basic civic services in the newly included areas of the North and the South City Corporation.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial