An undivided Dhaka City Corporation building built at the cos of Tk 460 million in 2006 in the name of ensuring facilities of the citizens still remains unutilised.
Construction of the building at Sadarghat of Old Dhaka started back in 2002 and finished in 2006. It was said the building would have facilities like community centre, gymnasium, health centre and shops, but nothing such exists.
The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has taken initiatives to arrange those facilities in the building. It is primarily estimated that Tk 40 million will be required to repair and for other activities of the building.
Harun ur Rashid, executive engineer of Dhaka South City Corporation-4 said to Prothom Alo, “The building will become the centre point for all sorts of facilities for citizens in next one year.”
However, the question rises, why the building was left empty for all these years. The people associated said leaving the building abandoned, which is established by taxpayers’ money, is a negligence.
The history of the building
The building is at the opposite of Sadarghat Launch Terminal. It is built over an area of 22 katha land. The total area of the six-storied building is 84,000 square feet.
Sadeque Hossain Khoka, former mayor of undivided Dhaka City Corporation took the initiative to construct the building. City Corporation sources said, Tk 230 million was estimated as cost of the building.
Sources said the building was almost finished in 2006. During that time the country underwent political turmoil. Awami League took over the power in 2009. As a result Khoka was not able to inaugurate the building. The building was left empty for 11 years after being completed.
DSCC's former mayor Sayeed Khokon in 2007 took an initiative to make the building usable. The documents say, Tk 228 million was spent then. Khokon established a shelter centre named "Sheikh Hasina Jalabayu Udbastu Asroy Kendro and Social Service Centre" after repairing. Sajeda Foundation, a non-government organisation was given the responsibility of running it.
Officers of DSCC said, according to the contract with Sajeda Foundation, they were supposed to receive TK 60 million annually for the expenses of the shelter centre and treatment of the sheltered people. After Sajeda Foundation had taken over in 2019 and coronavirus broke out in 2020. DSCC did not provide regular payments to the foundation. As a result the functions of the centre were stopped. Related people said the building was used a shelter centre for about one year after it had been build 16 years ago.
Things seen at the ground level
Amid the narrow and congested streets and ambience of Old Dhaka, the building is very specious. The Buriganga is situated at the other side. On 8 September, it was seen that some parts of the second floor of the building is being used as the office of local councilor of the city corporation.
The beds of the shelter centre at the third floor were seen left abandoned. The doors of the other floors were seen bolted with locks. There is a public toilet at the western side of the first floor which is being used.
There are two elevators in the building but the people related could not confirm whether they are being used currently.
The building is at the 37 ward of the DSCC. The councilor of the ward Abdur Rahman Miaji told to Prothom Alo, “His office is at a corner of the second floor. There is no function in any other part of the building.
New initiatives, new expediture
DSCC mayor Fazle Nur Taposh took a new initiative to use the building. DSC sources said, the works of community centre, health centre, gymnasium and other citizens' facilities costing Tk 40 million will be completed within one year if the mayor approves.
The building is given a new name as DR Moazzem Hossain Community Centre. Moazzem was a former councilor of the ward.
Shah Alam, an inhabitant of Shakhari Bazar of Old Dhaka told Prothom Alo that the city corporation is not as keen to utilise the building as it was o build it with a huge amount of money. Let it not be left abandoned this time round.