Major bus terminals and depots in the capital have turned into the ideal breeding grounds for Aedes mosquito due to water accumulated in potholes, abandoned containers and piles of tyres, according to the Communicable Disease Control (CDC) unit of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Five of the 12 most risky areas for Aedes breeding are in bus terminals and depots, a survey data of the organisation shows.
Piles of discarded tyres, plastic containers and potholes filled with rainwater are an ideal place for growth of the larvae of Aedes mosquito, the bearer of dengue virus, which has infected more than 50,000 people across the country.
The Prothom Alo correspondent, visiting five major mosquito-prone bus terminals and depots, found that mosquito insecticide has been sprayed only once in those areas in two weeks since the day before the Eid.
Despite continuous instructions by the city corporations, insecticides are not being used inside the buses for long routes. Garbage and littered wastes on terminal compounds are not being cleaned, resulting in ideal breeding grounds for the mosquito.
Aedes larvae were found in more than 80 per cent of wasted containers at Kamalapur BRTC bus depot and Mahakhali bus terminal. Surveyors also found 60 to 80 per cent containers with Aedes larvae at Gabtali and Mirpur-12 bus terminals and 20 to 60 per cent containers with larvae at Sayedabad bus terminal.
The CDC conducted the survey in 14 areas of Dhaka from 31 July to 4 August. The CDC official said they had sent the survey results to both the city corporation offices within couple of days of the survey.
This correspondent visited Sayedabad bus terminal on Saturday. The compound is full of wastes and potholes filled with rainwater and water used to wash the buses. Apart from plastic containers and tyres there are disposable water bottles and coconut shells.
As many as eight abandoned buses were seen at Kamalapur bus depot. There were water stagnations under and inside those buses.
Mosquitoes have become flying demons in the depot even in broad daylight, said the depot’s deputy manager (technical) Md Zilani.
“We try to clean if there is any water accumulated in any place of the depot on our own. But the city corporation did not spray mosquito insecticides at the depot,” he added.
Sayedabad bus terminal and Kamalapur bus depot fall under the area-5of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC).
Nishat Parvin, assistant health officer of DSCC area-5, however, claimed they have sprayed larvae and mosquito insecticides at both the places on 15 August.
Kabirul Bashar, professor of Zoology department at Jahangirnagar University, said the bus terminals and depots in Dhaka are ideal places for breeding of Aedes mosquito.
“You’ll find many abandoned tyres at Gabtali bus terminals and Kamalapur bus depot. Aedes mosquitoes can breed better at those places. Thousands of people use those terminals every day. This augments the risk of dengue infection,” he added.
Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader told the newsmen on 5 August that the authorities issued letter to all the bus owners instructing them to spray mosquito insecticides inside the bus before boarding of passengers.
In a meeting on 4 August, the road transport owners association also decided to use insecticides in the buses for long route.
This correspondent, however, did not find any of the 14 buses spraying mosquito medicines before setting out for different destinations from Sayedabad, Mahakhali and Gabtali bus terminals between 10:00am and 2:00pm on the day.
A passenger reiterated the same situation. “I’ve seen at least five buses departing Gabtali bus terminal in the past one and a half hours. I did not see any of them spraying mosquito insecticides. The owners take high fare for tickets yet they cannot buy a container of aerosol,” said a passenger Md Akmal.
Road transport owners’ association general secretary, also a leader of ruling Bangladesh Awami League, Khandaker Enayet Ullah told Prothom Alo, “The bus owners did not follow our instructions. What could be done? We are sometimes spraying insecticides in bus terminals though.”
*The report, published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat