Who cares about pedestrians? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 04, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:13 AM, November 04, 2018

Who cares about pedestrians?

Mouchak footpath: Where walking is a trial by fire

The road from the capital's famous Mouchak Market to the Moghbazar intersection is flanked on both sides by countless establishments -- schools, hospitals, shopping malls, restaurants, offices, and what not.

Yet in a damning example of neglect, pedestrians are forced to negotiate almost the entire stretch of this extremely busy route without a footpath on either side. Rather, they must walk around a number of dumpsters and garbage heaps by stepping onto the tarmac -- putting themselves in the way of moving vehicles.

Pedestrians' suffering knows no end due to such an important road lacking a proper sidewalk.

Dejected residents of Mouchak, Moghbazar, Siddheshwari and adjoining areas expressed their dismay, relaying the difficulties they face passing through this stretch of road without a car, a luxury many families cannot afford. Parents are reluctant to let their children go out alone.

Bappi Kuri, a student of Dr Sirazul Islam Medical College, was seen walking home one evening, holding a handkerchief tightly to his nose as the stench from a dumpster that had spilled over to take up nearly half the road overwhelmed the senses.

“There should have been a footpath in this place. We can't walk comfortably because of roadside dumpster, garbage and illegal parking,” an irritated Bappi said. 

Noting that roads without a footpath are a major cause of accidents, Bappi said, “As we walk on the road, we risk our lives. But pedestrians have no choice as they must give the garbage a wide berth to avoid the stench as well as different types of diseases that thrive in garbage.”

“The road's condition is atrocious. There's no scope of pulling rickshaw easily,” said Sohrab Hossain, a rickshaw-puller in the area, adding that rickshaws often overturned on the road during monsoon, injuring passengers.

Rakibul Islam, a student of Siddheswari College, told the news agency how closing time at their college heralds the most dangerous time, as hundreds of students stream on to the road to make their way home. “That is a very tough time to walk on this road.”

The situation is nothing new, yet the authorities turn a blind eye. It all gives rise to the question: do the city authorities care about pedestrians?

When asked the aforementioned question, Dhaka South City Corporation Chief Executive Officer Mustafizur Rahman conveyed genuine regret and even an apology on behalf of DSCC to those suffering on a daily basis.

Turning to the garbage piling up in undesignated spots where the footpath should have been, and spilling onto the roads, Mustafizur said they are working to clean the city and DSCC has a plan in place to clean up all the areas of the capital under its jurisdiction.

“Our clean-up project is already in the implementation stage. The work is currently on in Sayedabad and Jatrabari,” said DSCC's most senior officer, working under Mayor Sayeed Khokon.

“We're working for people. We understand their sufferings but the projects we undertake are also for them. DSCC is very sorry for the temporary inconvenience,” he said.

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