City residents alleged that aedes mosquito control activities in the capital were more a show than a reality as the dengue menace has already engulfed the city while it now continued to spread all over the country.
They complained that neither the Dhaka South City Corporation nor the North took pragmatic measures but they were talking much while blaming residents for the outbreak of the mosquito-borne viral fever that has so far infected over 30,000 people and reportedly claimed lives of around 80.
Recently a video became viral on social media where information minister Hasan Mahmud was seen sweeping a road along with film stars as part of an anti-mosquito drive.
Another social media video showed Dhaka University vice-chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman cleaning a road just after waste was dumped there a moment earlier.
Both the incidents drew much criticism from people.
‘Stop making fun with people at this critical moment,’ said Abdul Matin, general secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan.
He said that all these are a kind of show to get publicity.
‘If they really wanted to make the public aware [of the problem] they could have gone to a dirty area to clean that in cooperation with local people,’ he added.
Both mayors of Dhaka also attended a number of events for nothing but media coverage, said residents, adding that household and city wastes were still being dumped on main roads, with the islands being littered with used plastic materials and other garbage.
Md Mazed Miah, a house owner at Kalabagan in the capital, said that he came to know of massive drives against mosquitoes through television and newspapers but ‘practically the situation has not improved’.
‘You did many press conferences, rallies, seminars and symbolic events; now please genuinely kill mosquitoes,’ said aggrieved Mazed in anguish, targeting the authorities concerned.
Some residents said that the attitude of the two mayors, ministers and ruling party leaders seemed that it was a task of the individuals to control mosquitoes and they were there to dish out advice and to create awareness.
Government leaders, including ministers and city mayors, made insensitive comments about the dengue menace while the mosquito-borne viral disease turned from bad to worse over the days.
City’s Kathalbagan resident Abdul Hannan questioned: ‘If the mosquito control is the duty of individuals why should then the city corporations spend over Tk 40 crore for the purpose?’
‘Even now mosquito killing workers come once in two weeks on average,’ he said.
A woman councillor of Dhaka North City Corporation said on condition she be not identified that the drive against mosquitoes was invisible in her area though top officials and public representatives were talking too much about such drives.
‘It is better than nothing,’ thus she evaluated the overall mosquito control measures.
She alleged that the responsible officials were busy capturing pictures with their smartphones and uploading them on WhatsApp and Messenger.
Dhaka south and north city corporations have set up monitoring mechanisms at different tyres but the number of workers and equipment they are using for mosquito control is highly insufficient, compared to the areas to be covered, while the medicine used is of low quality and ineffective, say residents.
Dhaka north mayor Atiqul Islam admitted the problem of manpower and equipment.
He said that the city corporation had acute manpower crisis for killing mosquitos but they could not deploy anyone without proper training and following the due appointment process.
DNCC chief health officer Brig Gen Mominur Rahman Mamun said that they lack mosquito killing workers.
The DNCC has only 250 workers, 322 foggers, 459 hand sprayers and another 10 wheel barrow sprayers, which are extremely insufficient for covering the 114 sq km city area, he said.
On the other hand, DSCC officials have said that this city corporation has 420 workers with 442 spray machines, 447 foggers and 51 wheel barrow sprayers for its 109 sq km area.
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