Mayor is missed
As soon as the sun goes down, trucks and covered vans start occupying the Satrasta intersection in the capital's Tejgaon. First in ones and twos, then in their dozens, choking the intersection and creating a tailback there.
This is a common sight at the intersection these days, after a respite for about two years.
For decades, an illegal truck stand had occupied Satrasta where trucks, pickups and covered vans would block both sides of the road.
There was hardly any walkway and people would shudder to pass by the place after sunset, as criminals and drug peddlers would frequent the entire area.
In the face of strong opposition from influential transport leaders, no one dared to remove the illegal stand.
But things had changed for the better in December 2015, after the then Dhaka North City Corporation mayor Annisul Huq removed the stand despite coming under huge pressure. Later, the city corporation planted trees on the median strip and built a modern public toilet beside the road.
"But the illegal occupation is happening again,” said Joynal Abedin, a resident of BG Press colony near the intersection.
The road behind the Land Record and Survey Department, adjoining Satrasta, has also turned real bad. The road is choked with randomly parked trucks and covered vans even during the day, he said.
The condition of the Tejgaon Road connecting Karwan Bazar and Satrasta, and Gabtoli bus stand is similar.
"We saw a momentum in the city corporation's work, but that started fading away after Annisul Huq died," said Mohammad Asif, another resident of the area.
And after the suspension of the DNCC elections for six months by the High Court over legal issues, residents fear that things will take a turn for the worse in the city without a mayor.
Already, a number of development projects have lost pace after Annisul died on November 30 last year.
For example, the future of the project for construction of 11 U-loops from Satrasta to Abdullahpur has become uncertain.
To implement the project, the city corporation needs to acquire some land owned by the Roads and Highways Department, Railway and National Housing Authority, among other government agencies. But the DNCC is yet to get permission for this.
The project is scheduled to be completed by June this year, but its fate is unclear, said a DNCC official.
Annisul would do many things on his own initiative, but that has stopped now, he added.
In many cases, quality of the ongoing development works has deteriorated.
For instance, parts of the footpath before Hotel Super Star and and People's Ceramic Industries Ltd on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue have already crumbled just one and a half months into its construction.
One ward councillor, asking not to be named, said poor quality materials are being used in various development works. Also, top DNCC officials are not going for field visits like before.
In other cases, encroachers have returned to occupy the roads and footpaths from where they were evicted by the Annisul-led city corporation, said Md Sazzad Hossain, councillor of ward-2 in Mirpur. He cited the example of Kalshi road in his area.
Different parts of the newly expanded road in Muslim Bazar in Pallabi have been occupied again, he added.
Md Nurul Islam Ratan, councillor of ward-29, said the pace of the city corporation's works has slowed down for a lack of leadership.
Officials also agreed there was an absence of an authoritative leadership.
Ward-21 Councillor Md Osman Gani is now discharging duties as a panel mayor. But he acknowledged he has no authority over officials and other councillors.
"If a panel mayor does not get the status of a mayor, it is really very difficult for him to do the job,” he said.
The development works in the newly added 18 wards have also stopped as the government has yet to approve several projects involving Tk 2,000, he said.
"We already sent to the LGRD ministry the project proposals around a month back after conducting feasibility study, but we did not get the approval yet,” he said.
There is also a fund crisis. In the current fiscal year, the DNCC had a target of collecting Tk 1,120 crore in revenue. But it will be able to earn about Tk 600 crore. This will hamper the development work, said an official.