Dhaka Mayors: Please talk less, act more, take responsibility
The two "fathers" of Dhaka city, DSCC Mayor Saeed Khokon and DNCC Mayor Annisul Haque, have already outlived the assurances they gave to residents of the capital by failing to turn some of their words into reality - and sadly, they still play truant on their duties and take the people as fools. Though they have gained praises and appreciation of the city dwellers for some of the bold steps they already took to alleviate the sufferings of the city people but their failures on some issues frustrate people, sometimes lead them to groan in anguish.
On the long list of their many failures the most recent is the mosquito menace causing Chikunguniya and massive flooding in the city following rain.
The first menace is spreading mainly due to inaction, negligence and apathy of the Mayors to perform their duties while they ease out in comfort in their offices and posh villas or homes leaving rest of the city dwellers in extreme pain and mounting sufferings with no sign of the situation improving anytime soon. Even the corruption of the officials of the two city corporations has been focused in media but no action was taken.
Over the years when mosquitoes bred and swarmed in larger number in and around the city, there has been hardly any spraying of mosquito repellant and insecticides. The city corporations have funds and manpower to do the jobs but the Mayors just did not feel like ensuring the timely and effective drives. Is it what they were elected for and given the keys of the city for development and ensuring conditions for healthy living. On the contrary, Dhaka has become nastier, messier with large scale lacking of living amenities, making the city one of the world's least livable cities. Can the Mayors disown their responsibilities in this regard?
Meanwhile, the Mayor Annisul Huq has made comments behaving rudely and irresponsibly that have shocked people and earned him people's wrath for his perceived audacity. For the city's inundation and water logging both the Mayors are to be blamed.
The Mayors are partly responsible, along with the WASA, for the capital's poor drainage systems and showing no interest to improve them. However, they took some people as fodder for short-lived campaigns like removing illegal structures, retrieving some illegally occupied lands and clearing footpaths of the hawkers in the DSCC zones.
For rest of the problems the Dhaka residents face, the Mayors remain indifferent and react angrily when their inaction or failures are questioned. They feel like unaccountable.
Only two days after Health Minister Mohammad Nasim had said that controlling mosquitoes was the responsibility of the City Corporations, Annisul at a news conference on Friday stunned the people by saying that he "cannot move from house to house to fix nets to prevent mosquitoes." He instead blamed the residents for not keeping their homes and surroundings clean and free from mosquitoes - and he would take no responsibility for eradicating or controlling the menacing pests.
Then whose responsibility is this? The city dwellers took Annisul's remark as an aspersion on their rights to live safely and criticized him profusely in all branches of the media. However, on Saturday Annisul reportedly said he was sorry for the unguarded comments. It doesn't matter, because the damage is already done.
Earlier, Saeed Khokon said steps were underway to control chikunguniya -- which many say has become an epidemic but city officials deny -- in a week or so. But latest reports say the disease causing high fever and excruciating pain in the body joints are still spreading. Question is, would the Mayors be made accountable and to whom?
Saeed Khokon is son of Dhaka's first and successful Mayor (late) Mohammad Hanif, a prominent leader of ruling Awami League, and he belongs to the same party. As such he was expected to prove his prudence in serving the people. But he is failing in gaining reputation, praises and confidence like his late lamented father.
Annisul is a successful businessman and his active role on issues related to people's rights and needs made him a known civil society figure. His penchant to become DNCC Mayor was phenomenal and encouraged Dhaka people with hopes. But many city dwellers are now dismayed. Mocking his success as Mayor, social media circulated a cartoon asking support for Annisul in the next city corporation election. It ridiculed him for talking much and doing less.
Since the two Mayors took charge in May 2015 Dhaka's public sufferings have not eased as many expected. The roads remain clogged with constant traffic jam slowing down life and business. They are also under water during and before the monsoon period, filled with debris and filth, and many streets have become narrow lanes as relentless digging - but not filling up -- continues throughout the year. Solving these problems are also in part responsibility of the Mayors but they visibly turn their eyes and concern to resolve those.
Will Dhaka see expected uplift or improvement under the two Mayors, many disgruntled people ask. But they don't have the answer nor is anyone is ready to give it.
After taking over, Annisul and Khokon pledged to make Dhaka - a city of 15 million people - one of the world's most modern, beautiful and advanced cities. But over two years passed. May be now is time to ask the Mayors to submit their accounts and progress of work. They must be held liable as they can not shirk their responsibilities. Should'nt they talk less, act more and take responsibility. We still want to keep our hopes and confidence on them.