Most low-lying areas in Chattogram city went under knee-to-waist-deep water yesterday due to incessant rain, causing immense sufferings to city dwellers.
In the 24 hours before noon yesterday, the Chattogram Met Office recorded 74.4mm of rainfall, said Met officer Jahirul Islam.
During a visit to different areas, this correspondent saw roads, lanes, and by-lanes in Katalganj, Shulakbahar, Prabartak intersection, Bahaddarhat, Muradpur, Sholashahar Gate No. 2, Kapasgola, West Bakalia DC Road, KB Aman Ali Road, Rahamatganj, Agrabad, Halishahar, Chandgaon, and Saraipara under knee-to-waist deep water.
What's worse, the water even entered tin-roofed houses and breached the ground floor of buildings located in these areas.
Drains across the city became an additional source of pain, as pedestrians were forced to traverse the filthy water overflowing from the drains, some of which also entered residences.
Patients and attendants at Agrabad's Ma o Shishu Hospital fell into suffering as water entered the ground floor of its premises.
Rezaul Karim, treasurer of the hospital, said whenever it rains, waterlogging occurs on the road in front and makes its way into the hospital.
At West Bakalia's DC Road, this correspondent caught Ratan Saha wading through knee-deep water to enter his house.
"I cannot explain to you how miserable we are during monsoon. Even a moderate amount of rain means we're going to get flooded and our valuables are going to get damaged. We have been facing this woe for 10 years," he said. "I cannot even move to another place due to financial insolvency."
In the aftermath of heavy rainfall, people living in low-lying areas have to bear the brunt of waterlogging, which has become a regular cause of misery for them every year during monsoon for over a tersedecade.
However, many point their fingers at the authorities concerned, especially the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA).
Four years ago, CDA initiated a mega project to address the waterlogging woes of the city, but city dwellers are yet to see any effects.
"I don't understand what is taking CDA so long to complete the project," said Aminul Islam, a banker residing in Saraipara.
West Bakalia's Phooltola resident Dhiman Ghosh said, "It's been more than three years. They really should complete the project soon to relieve us of the waterlogging."
The project includes clearing the city's canals, building roads on their banks, as well as bridges, culverts, silt traps and more.
As per the project profile, a total of 9.50 lakh cubic metres of mud will be extracted from 36 canals, while 85.68 km of roads will be built on the bank of the more important ones.
In addition, 48 PC guarder bridges, six culverts, five tidal regulators, 42 silt traps, 200 cross-drain culverts, and 10.77 km of new drains will be built, while another 15.5 km of side drains will be expanded.
CDA initiated the Tk 5,616 crore project in July 2017, with the initial deadline set for June 2020.
But in June 2021, CDA officials said only around 50 percent of the works have been completed.
According to sources, the government has increased the tenure for two more years.
While the delay in the project's completion is one issue, in many areas residents also complained that the project works made waterlogging worsen in their areas.
The complaints have been levied by residents of Agrabad, Chandgaon, Prabartak intersection, and more.
Subhash Barua, a resident of Praborttak area, said, "On one hand, people are suffering due to the slow pace of the project. On the other, even where the works have been completed, waterlogging is yet to subside."
"For example, even though a bridge in Hijra Khal (in Prabartak intersection) has been rebuilt, while the canal has been expanded in March, the surrounding road has still gone under water as from the torrential rain today," he said.
Contacted, Hasan Bin Shams, chief engineer of CDA, said the Hizra canal needed more extension (in width), but land acquisition became an issue as the price of land has increased more than estimations made for the project in 2017.
Asked about the project's delay, Hasan pointed out a number of factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We were supposed to complete the installation of five tidal regulators by March, but we could not import the machines from Netherlands and the UK as production was halted in these countries due to the lockdown," he said.
"Once the tidal regulators are installed, you will see significant improvement regarding waterlogging," he said.
Hasan identified another reason behind the slow pace of the works, alleging that the CDA wasn't getting adequate funds from the government.
"We have only received Tk 1,700 crore so far in three years," he said. "We are in constant contact with high officials of the government, urging them to release the rest of funds as soon as possible."