Worsening woes of waterlogging
Following the recent incessant downpour last week, much of the capital remained submerged and people had to walk in waist-deep water in many areas. In a recent report published in this daily, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) pointed out that the lack of coordination among the responsible government organisations—Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa)—their unhealthy competition and the practice of blaming each other, are the main factors behind the lack of any headway in solving the city's waterlogging problem. It has been suggested that the government hand over the drainage management system to the two city corporations because according to the law, Wasa is responsible for the construction and maintenance of major drainage systems while the city corporations are to look after the connecting lines.
We are concerned as experts fear that this year's flood is going to be one of the worst the country has experienced in recent memory and might last for quite a long time. In Dhaka, Wasa looks after 385 kilometres of drainage system along with 26 canals, a total of 74 kilometres in length, and 10 kilometres of box culverts; whereas the city corporations are responsible for 2,500 kilometres of the drainage system. Due to the legal complexities that exist, the concerned bodies tend to evade their responsibilities when the situation escalates. Earlier, Wasa failed to solve waterlogging problems and also claimed to have cleaned 20 out of the 26 canals under its maintenance. When in reality, TIB's research found that the canals were not cleared but clogged with heavy solid waste instead. It is Wasa's responsibility to inspect drains and canals at least twice a month. If this had been done, how could the canals be clogged?
Therefore, we too agree that it is necessary to amend the Act and hand over the responsibility of the drainage management to a particular body—the city corporations, as they represent the public. Despite the annual spending of thousands of crores of Taka of taxpayers' money in projects to improve the drainage system in Dhaka, the problems that cause waterlogging have not been solved. In fact, the situation seems to be worsening with time, making it nearly impossible for the people to move around in their city. A thorough and integrated approach needs to be undertaken immediately to address the severity of waterlogging so that it can ease the suffering of the people.