While city commuters are being forced to walk all over the main roads risking their life due to inadequate, dilapidated and narrow width of sidewalks at most parts, the Dhaka City Corporations are busy repairing some almost new and hardly dilapidated footpaths at VIP points in the name of development and city beautification.
Allegations have also been raised that the authorities are narrowing the width of many footpaths by half to two feet on an average.
Visiting the Topkhana Road this correspondent found a number of construction workers digging
sidewalks of the road while some others installing ordinary bricks with a row of ceramic bricks in the dugout portions.
The workers were seen
removing almost new and sturdy big size blocks made of concert which were installed there a few years ago.
The footpath from the National Press Club to Paltan Police Box on the side of the Secretariat was fit enough for smooth walk on foot, said some shopkeepers, hawkers and on duty policemen.
They said the sidewalk cutting in the name of city beautification is not logical. "It could have been repaired after four or five years. The bricks, which are being installed here, are weaker than
the concrete blocks it is replacing," said Liakat, a policeman.
Dilapidated conditions were seen in few sections of the sidewalk from Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) building to the Tropicana Tower.
Most commuters said that the repair of the sidewalk was not needed right now.
The money spent on it might have been spent on one of those which are totally unfit to walk on foot in other parts of the city, they argued.
Bikash Barua, an engineer of the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) overseeing the project, told The Daily Observer on Thursday that the footpaths were being repaired for development and beautification of the city.
The project work, which began on March 7, is estimated to cost Tk 1.88 crore.
He said, "As the sidewalks are on two sides of the Secretariat and the National Press Club, we are beatifying those."
Tawhid Siraj, Executive Engineer of DSCC, supervising the project, said that they were doing the work with DSCC's own fund for the purpose of development.
Sidewalks, which are very narrow, from Phulbaria to Dhaka Medical College are in a dilapidated state for long. Locals said that they could not draw the attention of authorities concerned to the poor condition of the sidewalks despite repeated appeals.
"But the authorities are taking care of the VIP areas depriving us," a councillor candidate in the ensuing DCC election told this correspondent on Thursday.
Both sides of the footpaths from Jigatala to Dhanmondi-27 of Sathmasjid Road were dug some three months ago. The width of both was stated by locals to have been narrowed by one to two feet on an average.
New slabs were installed in some parts of the sidewalks replacing sturdy concrete blocks.
The Zone-1 of DSCC is doing the repair work at an estimated cost of Tk 9.67 crore.
Regular pedestrians alleged that they were shocked at the sliming of the footpaths with piles of concrete wastes lying on the road for the last three months. Commuters walk through the main road risking their life.
A number of commuters demanded retaining the previous width of the sidewalks and to complete the repair work soon for smooth walking.
Mohammad Sumon, Deputy Assistant Engineer of the DSCC, who is working at the field level, said that the previous width of the footpaths of Sathmasjid Road was 3.44 metres.
"We have broadened the footpaths at many points and narrowed at some other portions. But the earlier width remains in most cases."
The footpath narrowing was also reported at Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Gulshan Avenue, Mirpur Road and other roads in the city.
It is learnt that most of the footpaths in the city were built after the Liberation War. Later, during Ershad's regime, many of those were narrowed to accommodate a larger number of vehicles on the roads.
"If the sidewalks are narrowed again, pedestrians will be left with little space on the footpaths to walk safely," he lamented.
The city's sidewalks have been accustomed to hawkers' aggression, illegal parking, dumping of construction materials for a long time, their obliteration in points are stated by some people to be a threat of smooth movement.