Little progress in big projects

Even after five years of the establishing of the Mymensingh City Corporation, it is being run with the manpower of the pourashava and recruiting some people on a daily wage basis

The construction of this road in the Char Ishwardia area of the MCC began six months ago, but it is yet to be finishedProthom Alo

The Mymensingh City Corporation (MCC) got a special allocation of Tk 15 billion within two years of its inauguration to enhance public services. The residents expected this project to curb their sufferings.

The deadline of the project ends in 10 months, but the progress is only 23 per cent. As a result, the expectations of the city dwellers still remain to be fulfilled.

Prothom Alo spoke to at least 20 voters, political personalities and representatives of civil society regarding their expectations and problems within the MCC areas. They said there have been visible developments in terms of road infrastructure, road lights and waste management after the Mymensingh city was promoted to a city corporation.

However, there are several problems persisting there, including the road construction in the extended area, occupation of footpaths, water logging, crisis of playgrounds and mosquito infestation. Apart from that, the traffic situation in the city corporation area has worsened further.

The election to the Mymensingh City Corporation will be held on 9 March. A total of five candidates will be contesting for the post of city mayor. The candidates are coming up with several problems and are making commitments to solve those to attract voters. Meanwhile, the outgoing mayor Ikramul Haque alias Titu is highlighting the development works done during his tenure and promising the city residents to continue with his development works.

Prothom Alo spoke to the chief executive officer (CEO) of the corporation Yusuf Ali regarding the overall development works.

He said the corporation had to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the first two years. Although the government was maintaining austerity at the time due to the looming economic pressure, there had been several development works in Mymensingh, including the renovation of a number of roads, installing road lights and digging up canals. In addition to that, there has been a huge development in waste management.

23pc progress rate

A gazette was published in October 2018 declaring the dissolution of the Mymensingh pourashava (municipality) and its promotion as a city corporation. The Mymensingh pourashava had 21 wards. Later 12 other wards were formed to establish the Mymensingh City Corporation. The size of the areas under the dissolved pourashava was 21.73 square kilometres. However, the size of the city corporation is 90.17 square kilometres.

The demand for infrastructural development and public services are rising in the city corporation areas. In particular, the infrastructures were too poor in the newly formed wards comprising the char areas and areas which were under the jurisdiction of union parishads before.

The government approved a special project considering the demand for development works in the areas under the Mymensingh City Corporation on 7 December, 2020. The cost of this project titled ‘Road Development in Mymensingh City Corporation and improving public services, including drainage network’ was estimated at Tk 15.75 billion.

According to the sources in the city corporation, around 475 kilometres of road, 345 kilometres of drain and 17 kilometres of footpath were supposed to be constructed under this project. The project also includes construction of a 37.59-kilometre retaining wall 1.10 kilometres of road divider, three bridges, 13 culverts and six pedestrian bridges. The deadline for the projects ends in December this year.

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The construction of a drain in the Natun Bazar area is underway at a slow pace. The Hari Kishore Roy lane of the Natun Bazar area was closed for three months for the drain construction. Now, the construction is underway on the Shaheb Ali road of the city at the moment. The entire road has been shut down for at least 25 days. Therefore, the residents nearby are suffering a lot.

Yusuf Ali, CEO of the corporation, told Prothom Alo that it would not be possible to finish the work within the stipulated time. There was a massive delay in starting the project. They have completed works worth Tk 3.65 billion so far. They have called tender for works worth Tk 8 billion. There will be considerable progress in the project if they get an allocation within this year.

He further said there is progress in the works related to waste management. Most of the roads in the city are better now.

Old problems prevailing in new wards

Most of the newly included areas from the union parishads lack proper public services. The common people expected that there would be development in their areas after being included in the city corporation. However, there have not been many changes there in the last five years. Several roads in the newly included wards are in shambolic conditions. There is no proper waste management system or any mosquito repellent programmes in these areas either.

The newly added ward No. 31 is on the other side of the river Brahmaputra. The residents have to cross the river on boats every day. After crossing the river, they have to pass piles of sand to get on the road. The condition of the road is not good either.

The mostly unusable roads in the Char Kalibari road in the Mymensingh City Corporation
Prothom Alo

Shamsul Haque is a resident of the Char Gobindapur village under ward No. 31. He told Prothom Alo that the main road from the riverbank towards the Char Gobindapur village was completely unusable. The MCC started the required renovation works. However, they completed half of the work and have left it like this for the last six months.

Lack in public services

There are problems of mosquito infestation in every ward of the city corporation. There is almost no sanitary landfill in the city corporation area. The waste is usually dumped in the Char Kalibari area of the corporation. Each family has to pay Tk 100 to Tk 150 to private companies for carrying waste from their homes.

The residents of the city spend a large portion of the day in traffic congestion. Narrow roads, illegal occupation of the footpaths along the roads, uncontrolled movement of battery-run auto-rickshaws and unplanned construction of buildings has led to the rise of traffic congestion in the city. According to a study of the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research last year, Mymensingh is the ninth slowest city in the world.

Although some work has been done to prevent water logging, the problem still prevails in several areas of the city including Balashpur, Bhatikashara, Akua, Noumahal, Charpara and the Outer Stadium areas. There is a crisis of playgrounds and parks in the city corporation areas. The project to construct the Sheikh Russel Shishu Park (children’s park) over a large area in ward No. 29 awaits the government approval.

The city corporation officials blamed the lack of manpower as the reason behind the crisis in providing services to the people. The human resource structure has not been approved by the government even after five years of the establishing of the Mymensingh city corporation. Therefore the corporation is being run with the manpower of the pourashava and by recruiting people on a daily wage basis (master role). There are a total of 1,510 employees, including 213 in the revenue sector and 1,297 in the master role. A large section of them are cleaners.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Mymensingh based civil organisation ‘Jana Udyog’ convener Nazrul Islam said no effective initiative had been taken to solve the problems in the Mymensingh city, including traffic congestion. Besides, there are questions regarding the quality of the development works. The quality of the project must be up to the mark.