Dhaka under water: How much more sufferings for the city dwellers

Several hours of rain on Thursday night left most of the areas in Dhaka city inundated and several thousand home-bound people were thrown into indescribable sufferings.

There has been an incident of four people including three of the same family dying of electrocution in Mirpur during the rain. Couldn’t these deaths have been avoided?

It’s not unusual for water to accumulate in the low-laying areas of Dhaka city in times of heavy rains. But, why will there be waterlogging in some places 12 hours or 24 hours after the rain?

The question of why there isn’t a minimum drainage system in this city of 15 million people even after so many years comes to the forefront once again.

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Even the meteorological office failed to warn the city dwellers about such a disastrous weather. As a result of not receiving any warning, thousands of men and women returning from work had fallen into a terrible crisis. Cars, CNG-powered auto-rickshaws and motorcycles got stranded as many streets went completely under water.

Finding no alternative vehicle, passengers had to wait for hours inside those sinking vehicles. There was so much water in some roads that even rickshaws could not pass through. The issue of the lack of public transport was once again left ultimately exposed on this night.

The fire brigade and traffic police members are supposed to provide assistance in times of these disasters. But, traffic police personnel were nowhere to be found in many places on the night. Activities of the fire brigade were also very limited.

There are many organisations including institutions to combat disasters in Dhaka to provide civic services to citizens of this city. There are elected public representatives also. Where were they during Thursday night’s mega disaster?

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The waterlogging in Dhaka city was so acute that the water still had not receded from many areas till Friday afternoon. New Market traders’ association president Dewan Aminul Islam told Prothom Alo angrily, “There could be incidents of waterlogging. But the water wouldn’t recede even after 12 to 14 hours, what kind of situation is that? Those who are responsible for this failure should be punished.”

Pictures taken by Prothom Alo photographers showed many areas including Old Dhaka, New Market, Azimpur, Dhanmondi and Mirpur completely waterlogged. Meanwhile, videos of a flooded Bangladesh University of Engineering (BUET) went viral on social media.

How a night’s rain could create such a situation? When it comes to waterlogging in Chattogram, alongside rains sea cyclones and destruction of hills are also listed as the reasons behind that. There’s no sea around Dhaka though. The reason for Dhaka being inundated yet after that is the inability to clear out the rainwater.

Influential people have devoured the canals of Dhaka. And the surrounding rivers including Buriganga have been pushed towards a deadly state through encroachment and pollution.

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In the past, Dhaka WASA had the responsibility of rescuing the canals but, they failed. Though the responsibility was transferred to the two city corporations about two years ago, the situation did not improve. We are tired of hearing the empty calls of the two mayors. Don’t they have anything to do?

The suffering of the city dwellers shouts that Dhaka actually has no guardian. None of the organisations deployed to provide civic services are performing their duties.

Failure to recover the canals of Dhaka and to protect the surrounding rivers will leave city dwellers to drown just like this. Let the persons and organisations responsible for the flooding be identified and held accountable.

Till Friday, we did not receive any news of a public representative meeting the relatives of the persons dying of electrocution in Mirpur. The seven-month-old child of that family somehow survived. The responsibility of the orphan child has to be taken by the state or the concerning organisations indeed. Plus, there must be compensation for these deaths.