Instead of trading blame, the responsible authorities will have to solve the problem with effective coordination and strong accountability, the anti-corruption watchdog says
- Wasa, Bangladesh Water Development Board, and the two city corporations are tasked with managing drainage system
- Dhaka Wasa is responsible for managing drainage lines of about 385 kilometres
- Two city corporations manage drainage lines of around 2,500 kilometres
- Although Wasa claimed that 20 canals including Katasur canal are functioning, the reality is some of these canals are filled up with wastage
- There is a coordination gap between Wasa and the two corporations in drainage system management
- Officials responsible for the drainage system management do not inspect canals and drains regularly, although they are assigned to visit the systems at least twice a month
Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa), the two city corporations, and all the organisations concerned have failed to solve the waterlogging problem in the city, the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has said.
A serious gap among them – in the management of drainage lines, sewerage lines, and waste disposal – is responsible for that, it said in a press release issued on Sunday.
So, instead of trading blame, the responsible authorities will have to solve the problem with effective coordination and strong accountability, the anti-graft organisation said.
Wasa, Bangladesh Water Development Board, and the two city corporations are tasked with managing the drainage system. In 1989, drainage system management was added to Dhaka Wasa's activities.
Dhaka Wasa is supposed to coordinate with the two city corporations of Dhaka regarding management and repairing of drainage lines, sewerage lines, waste disposal, and waterlogging.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, "According to the law, Dhaka Wasa is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the main drainage lines in Dhaka city, and the city corporations are tasked with the responsibilities of the other drainage lines."
"Also, Dhaka Wasa is responsible for managing the drainage lines of about 385 kilometres whereas around 2,500 kilometres of lines are managed by the two city corporations," he said.
"Dhaka Wasa manages 10-kilometre box culverts, and 74-kilometre canals (26 canals) too. Although it claimed in a report that of the 26 canals, 20, including Katasur canal, are functioning, the reality is some of these canals are filled up with wastage," the TIB executive director said.
Also, there is a coordination gap between Dhaka Wasa and the two city corporations in drainage system management.
It is alleged that both Dhaka Wasa and the city corporations tend to avoid their responsibility to clean the waste dumped into the drains or canals.
So, solid or heavy waste dumped into the drains or canals obstructs the normal draining out of rainwater, which causes waterlogging in the city. For this, people suffer more during monsoon.
"The drainage management, sewage, canal and culvert maintenance should completely be entrusted to a single entity with immediate amendments to the law," Iftekharuzzaman said.
"And the city corporations alone need to get the responsibility to solve the ongoing problem."
However, there is also a lack of initiatives in the construction and maintenance of the drainage system to drain out the excessive rainwater.
"Field data also show that the officials responsible for the drainage system management do not inspect canals and drains regularly, although they are assigned to visit the systems at least twice a month," Iftekharuzzaman said.
"So, the canals and drains were filled up with bulky waste and garbage, and the grabbers constructed illegal structures on the canals.
"Also, the information published in the media shows that in the fiscal year 2019-20, at least 10 of the 26 canals of Dhaka Wasa were not re-excavated and cleaned," the TIB executive director said.
"So, Dhaka Wasa cannot shrug off its responsibilities. Also, the city corporation cannot shirk its failure to manage the drainage system and waste by putting all the blame on Wasa."
According to the existing law, the city corporations are supposed to coordinate with Wasa regarding management and repairing of drainage lines, but they do not do that while preparing the stormwater drainage system.
Again, if any drain of Dhaka Wasa is damaged as a result of development activities of the city corporations, Wasa is not informed about it.
However, the Local Government Division formed "Operational-Action Committee to Solve Waterlogging in Dhaka Metropolitan" in May 2018. The committee was mainly tasked with freeing the existing canals and drains from illegal occupations, and cleaning, excavating and re-excavating them.
But these steps could not be implemented due to a gap in coordination among the agencies concerned.