A photo published in this daily on Thursday, where a Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) staffer is seen severing a glut of wires hung from electric pillars in Dhanmondi, Dhaka, brings to light the thoughtless way our city authorities are trying to solve a long-lasting problem. Apparently, the man was severing the wires as part of a DNCC drive to cut off illegal internet connections by service providers operating in the area. The question is, why did the authorities allow the service providers to give these connections in the first place? Did they think of the public inconvenience their action would create prior to starting the drive?
These fibre optic cables have been there for years under the very nose of the city authorities and now suddenly they have realised that they need to cut them off. Taking such a random action means that hundreds of internet users of the areas involved will be without internet and will not be able to work or study from home. Although these are illegal connections, the subscribers are paying bills for this. And during this time of the pandemic when people's movements are restricted and they are confined at their homes, it will create further problems for them. The city authorities are accountable to the public and they should have thought about how the public would be affected by their action. Also, cutting off these connections will not ensure that the internet service providers will refrain from providing such connections in the future.
Similarly, we often see eviction drives being conducted by the administration to demolish illegal structures and reclaim public land and water bodies. However, such drives hardly yield any result as the land or water body recovered by them are reoccupied within a very short time. This happens as the land grabbers are hardly punished for their illegal activities.
In the present case, the authorities should have taken some rational, well-thought-out measures through holding discussions with the internet service providers, instead of randomly cutting off the connections. Although such drives may have some legal justifications, creating public inconvenience without putting in place an alternative arrangement is in no way acceptable.
We urge our city mayors to take practical steps to deal with the issue. They must make sure that the service providers comply with the rules regarding providing the connections. City corporation officials and staffers should remain constantly vigilant about the illegal practices and legal action should be taken against those service providers who are found to be providing connections in an illegitimate way.