Billion dollar projects, vested interests and a test for the leadership

Sultan Mohammed Zakaria

Sultan Mohammed Zakaria

For many long years, we, the Dhaka dwellers, are stuck by traffic congestion. Endless talks, planning, seminars, symposiums and round-tables took place hither and thither, but we remained at the same point as we were before. Lots of feasibility studies have been conducted, Dhaka remains standstill. No governments were able to break the shackles or simply they lacked political will or commitment to deliver. Whatever the case was, people are the ultimate sufferer.

We cannot count on finger for how many times we were lured with words like Metro-rail, Mono-rail, Expressway, Elevated highway and so on. But as said before, everything ended in talks and later trashed. We went back to square one.

The present AL-led government, so far, exhausted one and a half year of its limits. No wonder, again people are being lured with the same words, being played with the same tactics. Still, nothing is visible, nowhere. Yet, the government will have a democratic largesse to end up its tenure unless any untoward hiccup surprises us all. However, some claim that the government is committed to those billion dollar projects, some go even further that many of these projects will see the daylight very soon. We, the common people, cannot be pessimistic as we are destined to be hopeful. Optimists hint that we have started talking about numbers, so the things are closing in, and for us to see how many years it will really take to transform those numbers into reality.

We are decrying for a better leadership for quite some time. But things went worse when we tried to experiment with backdoor interventions. Therefore, we have to live with the ladies. No matter what the narcissists says, the mass people of Bangladesh are to be served by only those who represent them in line with their quality (you cannot dismiss the fact that nearly 40% of our populace live under the poverty line to whom liberal or constitutional democratic values are a far cry!). Besides, we all know the popular maxim, ‘the people deserve the government they have’. Therefore, nowhere to run. Aristocrats better try to accommodate themselves into this reality or may depart to the land of heaven.

Our present PM inherits the best man’s blood of our nation. She should live up to the promises and the expectations of the common people. Regarding this congestion issue too, she has to deliver what she promised to her people. People are becoming better informed day by day with the pace of new technological penetration into the system. Leaders and parties are to face their hardest test in the coming days. As the emotive events (in our political realm) are set to be settled once and for all, they have to find ways how to survive in a better equipped way. Henceforth, for solving this mammoth traffic congestion, apart from looking into other odd things, what our passionate PM needs to do is to draw rein of vested interests with iron hands who before impeded many good initiatives of the authority by either prolonging the tendering process, questioning the contract awarding and entering into legal battles etc. Having recognized the corruption, nepotism and undue favor in the contract awarding process, we are no less harmed by putting the whole process in danger by those vested interest coteries. These evil groups include corrupt bureaucrats, politicians, businessmen, lobbyists, and special interest groups. There are also politicians who try sabotage their own government by taking bribe from either of these groups or from some ‘unknown’ sources. For the rulers to be efficient, these challenges, although mammoth (as on the one hand- stay away from corruption and malpractices and skillfully maneuver the vested interest groups on the other), must be addressed before making any big strides. Here lies the test for the leadership.

A Timeless Round about

7 Responses to “Billion dollar projects, vested interests and a test for the leadership”

  1. Jabber

    In Bangldesh we only need implemtation of law, then all related problems will be solved byt itself in a big way. I feel shame to see that a MP who represent public and paid by public can say in the parliament that all community doctors must be employed from Awami League. Is the country belogns to Awami league or any rullingparty. I feel that we are a shameless nation.

  2. Javed Zaman

    Traffic congestion has become unbearable in Dhaka. Unplanned tall buildings along major roads exploited commercially for profiteering purposes without any multi-parking facilities, schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics and labs, etc., etc., etc. in residential areas, unrestricted import of private cars, lack of adequate public transport have added to the misery of the ordinary citizen.

    I have suggestions that can definitely ameliorate the man-made traffic mess.

    1. Stop importing and ban import of private cars for 3 years ASAP.

    2. Build a multi-billion dollor underground metro transit system for Dhaka city immediately in 5 years.

    3. Highways bypassing Dhaka and elevated expressways over Dhaka for heavy vehicles engaged in carrying goods between ports and cities and private cars going to southern or northern Bangladesh.

    4. I fully agree with the shipping minister when he said that CNG should be banned for private vehicles. People who use private cars can easily spend an extra Taka 300-500 on the daily average 250-300 spent on gas. Private cars should go back to octane and help Bangladesh save this precious resource from misuse. CNG consumption should be strictly reseved for public transport and certain commercial purposes.

    5. The government should immediately import several thousand public buses including the sturdy TATA double deckers that can withstand the wear and tear of Dhaka roads. We need at least 500 of the rough and tough DOUBLE DECKERS on the roads ASAP. It is a pity that the highly expensive and durable VOLVO double deckers went out of service because of very poor maintenance and rampant corruption within BRTC.

    6. Heavily penalize or bring down illegal structures like the BGMEA BHABAN in the middle of HATIR JHEEL and DOREEN TOWER at GULSHAN CIRCLE 2. It is rumored that the RAJUK approval papers of DOREEN TOWER of Nur-e-Alam Siddiki (one of the four khalifas of 1971) have disappeared from RAJUK office!

  3. Khondkar A Saleque

    Dear Mr Zaved please also realise where from Bangladesh get money and resources to implement multi billion dollar projects. You are suggesting banning cNG driven vehicles. Are you aware at what sistuation Dhaka clean fuel project was introduced to clean Dhaka air from lead, SO2 and CO2 emmissions. Can people live in Dhaka if emissions again return? Please be conscious before you comment.Metro Rail and elevated express highway are far cry for Bangladesh. Rather RMG industries, BDR head quater and AGHQ must be relocated outside Dhaka. These will take away 30% population outside dhaka. Kamlapoor Railway station may also be relocated to Gazipoor.unless population of Dhaka is drastically reduced through relocation and decentralization of Government activities ouside Dhaka no action will comfort Dhaka situation.

  4. Shabnam

    I think Dhaka has a lot of space in the BDR HQs, cantonment area and the old airport in Tejgaon.Just zoom in using Google Earth. Both the BDR HQ and cantonment should be shifted out of the metropolitan.These three areas should be developed and landscaped properly to give some breathing space to the common man.The brutal mayhem at Darbar Hall has shown the danger of keeping armed men inside a city. The murderous brutality that day could have easily spilled over into civilian areas that day. I have never seen military installations inside cities in any civilized country.

    The chaotic traffic situation is further compounded by the restriction of movement of public traffic within cantonment by the army.

    The government has started bringing down illegal structures around the Hatirjheel Project area. I would like to see the government bring down Marium Towers sitting in the middle of Gulshan Lake, BGMEA Bhaban inside Hatirjheel, illegal structures constructed along the lakeshore park along Baridhara Park by corrupt Rajuk ex-officios and high government officials, and the illegal structures erected by Lotus Kamal, Dr. Iqbal, Noor Ali (three MPs of the ruling party) along the Gulshan Avenue and Noor-e-Alam Siddiqui’s Doreen Tower.

    By the way, with reference to Javed’s opinion I agree that natural gas should not be misused. Its a precious commodity. Natural gas should be restricted for public transport only. ONLY OCTANE for private cars will cut down private cars on the streets by 25-30% provided the Roads&Highways minister is sincere and committed enough to launch at least a thousand government-run public buses on the streets of Dhaka to alleviate the plight of the common Dhaka citizen.

  5. Sultan Mohammed Zakaria

    To your (Ms Shabnam) last part, you know a democratic government used to pursue popularistic agenda which disable it to undertake any sort of unpopular but need reforms. I agree both of you (with Javed and Shabnam) that in such a dire condition of natural gas reserve, we cannot afford exhausting them for private luxury. But the case of hundreds of CNG Auto Rickshaw pullers has also to be accommodated as these are not public transports. No dispute on the point that our public transportation system has to be drastically reformed and must give it a pro-people face. Once we can do it successfully, the need for a private car for the mediocre middle class, which seems luxury to many, will be exhausted too. Last but not the least, why can’t we make our villages, country-sides, district towns more livable and draw the rein of both the push factors and pull factors? Leaders must know where the exact problems lie and act accordingly. Above all, they should have a broad philosophy in mind as Plato (in his book the Republic) once noted: “There will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers.”

  6. Yasmeen Zaman

    I see no logic behind keeping the major roads through cantonment ( from one gate at old airport premises to another at the rail crossing at Banani) exclusively for army personnel. Then you see hardly any public buses plying through Mirpur via Kochukhet and Kakoli. You will only see BRTC buses traveling through the cantonment to Balughaat frequently which is in far excess to BRTC buses running through civilian areas.

    I think there’s no other civilized country in the world where the army has so many housing complexes (i.e., cantonment, DOHS, Mohakhali DOHS, New Baridhara DOHS, Mirpur DOHS, etc, etc ) within a metropolitan city. All are outside the city boundaries. They are also encroaching on public land by extending army’s territory upto PMO, old Tejgaon airport and vast lands of Niketon. Their unquenchable thirst for government land has already devoured a third of Dhaka city. And if it goes unchecked common public will be squeezed to a quarter of today’s Dhaka soon. The only exception is perhaps Pakistan which is now fighting for its survival for its army’s past high-handedness in public, private and political affairs

    The government should immediately open these two routes through cantonment for public use. The army is fed by our taxpayers’ money and it should not enjoy such extraordinary privileges at the plight of local city commuters and dwellers.

    Opening up these two major highways through the cantonment bisecting Dhaka’s heavily populated areas will mitigate the sufferings of common people like us.

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