The ghost of a recreation centre
The life of the working class is not easy, and railway workers are no exception to that norm.
Keeping this in mind, a recreational center named Fida Ali Auditorium was built on three acres land in 1940, for the recreation of third and fourth class workers and staffers of Saidpur rail workshop.
There were arrangements for indoor and outdoor games and places for snacks and chatting inside the facility.
Besides, cultural events were held regularly here, where the railway workers sang and danced.
For them, this place was the only avenue to breathe a sigh of relief amid their hectic schedule.
Workers used to throng this place during breaks and after completing their day's work, and stay there till midnight, laughing and chatting with their mates.
But for sheer apathy of the authorities concerned, the auditorium now looks like a ghostly establishment, with none visiting the place anymore, due to a lack of facilities inside.
Only in special days like Independence Day or Victory Day, a few people gather to hoist national flag, as authorities provide some money for the task.
Ex-railway worker Abdur Rahman said during his young age, he saw that the auditorium became crowded every afternoon and remained so till 11:00pm.
Elderly workers can still remember that there was also arrangement for indoor games like carom, table tennis, chess etc, and outdoor games like volley ball, badminton and football.
The field was so huge that Eid congregations were held there regularly.
Visiting the site recently, this correspondent found that the doors, windows and musical instruments inside the once buzzing recreational centre were damaged. Besides, the equipment for games were missing, tall grass and weeds grew on the outdoor field. A good portion of the area was also grabbed in the absence of a boundary wall.
All in all, nobody will believe at first sight that this was a recreational centre once.
Rubayat Rahman, secretary of Saidpur rail workshop workers' union, said the place's downfall started when many workers of the workshop were forced to retire in 1991-1992, by the then government.
"The negligence towards the auditorium started then, The remaining 2,400 workers didn't have enough free time to begin with, as new workers were not hired after the massive firing spree."
"The equipment gradually became dysfunction and the authorities didn't show any interest to get new ones," he said.
Habibur Rahman, president of the centre's management committee, said, "The new batch of workers are more interested in virtual entertainment than using such centres."
Contacted, Shadikur Rahman, divisional superintendent of Saidpur rail workshop, said, "We've realised the importance of such recreational places for our workers. The auditorium will be renovated soon."