Chattogram deserves better from its city corporation
It is totally unacceptable that the Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) has failed to make any progress at all in a project taken up three and a half years ago to light up various city streets. According to a report by this daily, it has been stuck in the mud due to multiple reasons, including delays in tender procedures, negligence of CCC officials, alleged tender manipulation, etc. Already, the deadline of the project, which was first approved in 2019 and scheduled to be completed by June 2021, has been revised twice because of lack of progress.
Chattogram is among the most important business hubs in Bangladesh. Being the second-largest city in the country, it accounts for nearly 12 percent of our GDP, including 40 percent of industrial output, 80 percent of international trade, and 50 percent of tax revenue. The city is home to many of the oldest and largest companies in the country, and has one of the busiest ports in the whole of South Asia. Given these realities of national economic importance, one would expect Chattogram's urban development work to also run parallelly, which will only increase its contribution to our nation's growth. Despite that, the CCC's failure to start or implement a simple project even after three years shows how ill-prepared it is for the journey that lies ahead.
Upon completion, the project is expected to reduce the electricity bill of CCC by half, and a smart management system would be introduced instead of the present manual process, replacing around 500 switches for lamp control with four central server stations – while the LED lamps will be controlled by timers and magnetic control systems. This, again, would save the CCC, and thereby the taxpayers, a substantial amount of money every year. Yet, despite having the potential to significantly increase efficiency across the board, CCC authorities have ignored the importance of implementing the project.
This is, however, not the first time that they have failed to implement a project that is vital for Chattogram's needs. For example, about eight years ago, the authorities took up a project to excavate a canal to ease the suffering of city residents from waterlogging. Though the Tk-327-crore project was supposed to be completed by June 2017, the CCC failed to finish it and extended the deadline till June 2021, raising the project cost to Tk 1,256 crore. However, in April this year, it again appealed for, and received, a deadline extension from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec), thus raising the cost four times the original to Tk 1,363 crore.
Though we are yet to hear anything about a cost escalation for the lighting project, the fact that the CCC has failed to even get it off the ground is completely unacceptable. It is high time for the planning ministry and other concerned authorities to intervene and ask the CCC for an official explanation, and take effective measures to ensure the corporation starts to perform better both for the wellbeing of residents and the nation.