Re-open Ramna Park without delay
When public places and recreational venues have all gradually re-opened to resume outdoor activities across the globe - Dhaka's lungs of the city - Ramna Park yet remains off-limits to the public. The Indefinite closure of the park is yet another glaring example of our city authorities' incompetent handling to combat the COVID - 19 spread.
It is indeed surprising that paying heed to government instructions, when the protracted 66 days long 'General Holiday' was lifted by re-opening shopping malls , shops , general stores to most public places , the city's largest park was excluded from the list. Also we fail to grasp the actual reason behind extending the closure in this regard.
The park has a large security force which can be easily trained for ensuring social distancing while following health guidelines by its users. Most of the park goers are also educated and responsible citizens, where is the problem of re-opening it?
Reportedly, the park is going through a series of facelift and maintenance works, but this cannot be a major reason for closing down the entire park. Parts going under construction can be easily fenced with makeshift arrangements.
Had the park authorities operated more efficiently, they could have used the shutdown period for completing the works.
If the sole reason is fear about the spread of virus, Ramna Park authorities must draw lessons from how parks and public places have re-opened and operating in other parts of the world. Most European and Asian countries have resorted to strategic and disciplined re-opening of parks for their citizens, whereas Dhaka's number one park remains closed without a valid reason. This baffling closure is certainly unacceptable for Dhaka dwellers. Moreover, hundreds of Ramna goers have been forced to embrace unwarranted changes in their regular and healthy lifestyle.
With few open spaces and parks left for walking, jogging and doing workouts, Dhaka has literally turned into a concrete jungle in the past couple of decades. The approximately 70 acres park with its lush greenery and a lake is a haven for thousands. In particular, the senior citizens and fitness-freaks have become noticeably deprived from carrying out regular health activities. Thousands have become dispossessed from having leisure time amid the park greenery. Youngsters and children have been barred from doing sports. Therefore, the park is both an active and passive recreation area.
We call for immediate re-opening of the Ramna Park, coupled with strict health and social distancing guidelines. The iconic park is a public space meant to serve public interest. For well over a century the park has been an essential element to the fabric of our community, there is no point keeping it off-limits to the public.