• Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Uglification of Dhaka

Kazi Akib Bin Asad
Photo: Star
Photo: Star

After co-hosting the ICC World Cup with India and Sri Lanka back in 2011, Bangladesh finally got the chance this year to prove their organizing capabilities by landing the opportunity to hold the biggest twenty overs cricketing tournament in the world. As with any big event, it was only natural that the country would undergo some changes in the way it looked.
Work began in January and the mega sporting event kept everyone's interests at their peaks. Citizens expected to watch Dhaka's roads become cleaner, traffic issues resolved and high standards maintained while decorating the city. Sad but true, little has been done in any of the aspects mentioned.
The city, as it seems, underwent some serious amount of occupation, illumination and education in the name of beautification. Countless number of colourful banners, placards and even large leaflets are hanging from signposts and streetlights and trees. This is acceptable because the organizers have to inform the city, so the more you mention or display the name, the better. What comes next are the big, abstract shaped display hoardings set up on the sidewalks in many areas of the city. Dhaka is a bustling city with a population of over 15 million and so putting up such structures in a place (let's say, Farmgate) did not seem like a very good idea.
We love lights, yes we do. So they decided that Dhaka should look more like a scene in TRON: Legacy. The whole length of the road from the airport in Uttara to the stadium in Mirpur has been painstakingly decorated using LED ropes. The road islands and traffic circles in Karwan Bazar, Farmgate and Manik Mia Avenue have been subject to much adornment as well. The most discussed view is the scenic light art created in Bijoy Sharani where LED cables have been used to make rickshaws and boats to show a hint of Bangladesh. Question is, how long will they run and if they will remain in their places after the World Cup is over. Reports claim that many of these malfunctioned or were stolen in 2011.
Besides taking over the sidewalks and lighting up the roads, the authority has also decided to use bathroom and kitchen tiles to uplift the road islands in Mohakhali and parts of Mirpur. The décor consists of illustrations of eminent personalities and quotes inscribed upon stone, placed in the middle of the concrete structure. The whole arrangement lacks aesthetics, relevance to the sport and may prove to be an unwanted distraction to drivers and pedestrians alike. Experts have voiced their concern about the matter, doubting the know-how of the advertising agencies that take up such duties.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to giving Dhaka a makeover. The authorities could have used the reality that this metropolis is wrapped in billboards, and so they could be put to proper use than political propaganda. Trees are always an option to go for. They are good to the eye and provide shade in the heat. Another simple approach could be to introduce a simple clean drive and sort out the traffic condition. As I said earlier, the possibilities are endless.
Hosting an international event has its perks but living up to the expectations of the people and showing the world how we do it is a whole different ball game. Hopefully next time we will be able to make better use of our resources and cry out a successful “Howzat!” when the eyes of the world are on us.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, April 03, 2014

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