Watch your step: Road 800m, lidless manholes 10, woes manifold
Manoeuvring through the 800-metre stretch of a connecting road in South Matuail is tantamount to partaking in extreme sports, with danger lurking every few steps.
In just this short part of the small but busy road, locally known as "College Road", at least 10 manholes are missing lids or have had their covers damaged.
As authorities continue to turn a blind eye, accidents have become rampant on the road, causing severe injuries commuters, locals alleged.
"One or two accidents per day is the norm here," said Mozammel Haque, owner of a grocery shop in the area. With his shop located beside one such lidless manhole, he has become an involuntary observer of the debacle.
"The manholes are right down the middle of the road. Bikers and passengers of auto-rickshaws are the biggest victims," he told The Daily Star recently.
Contacted, local representatives of Dhaka South City Corporation spun a different tale. They said they regularly visit the place and replace the damaged covers, but find them damaged again soon.
Beyond falling into the manholes, locals said accidents also occur on the road when commuters suddenly notice the holes and take sharp turns trying to avoid them, causing chaos on the road.
Another shop owner of the area recalled a recent incident. Two bikers skidded off the road when the vehicle's front wheel got stuck in one of the pits. One of them sustained severe head injuries.
The risk escalates at night. "I narrowly escaped a harrowing injury on a Saturday night when the street lights were switched off," said biker Rafiqul Islam, a frequent commuter of the road.
"See, the place has no precautionary sign. For someone new to the street, it's not possible to predict how bad it can get," said resident of the area Morshed Manu.
"It's a lose-lose game. It's not possible to put up a barrier or stick bamboos inside the manholes as that will restrict vehicular movement, while there's always the added risk of hitting the objects and getting injured that way."
The risk increases manifolds during load shedding, he said.
Refuting DSCC's claims of regular repairs, he said, "Around two to three months ago, DSCC came in to put new covers on the manholes, but within a day they got damaged again. Since then the area has remained like that -- unprotected," he said, pointing at the open pit in front of the shop he was visiting.
Contacted, Shamsuddin Bhuiyan, councillor of DSCC Ward-65, said though they have replaced the manhole covers several times, but overloaded trucks -- which carry nearly 70 tonnes of goods from nearby factories – damage them within a couple of days.
"We have decided to use customised and sturdy lids for the manholes," he said. "We have also spoken to the zonal engineer in this regard."
But until then, this space will serve as a reminder of urban mismanagement and the suffering it can inflict on the city's residents.