Instead of reducing suffering, the projects have become a thorn in their flesh
Dhaka North City Corporation approved two development projects in the last five months to provide some comfort to the residents of the capital's Monipuripara area. But, instead of reducing their suffering, the projects have become a thorn in their flesh.
The city corporation repaired the roads and alleys in this area with bitumen nearly one and a half years ago. Four months ago, the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) dug-up all the roads and alleys in the area again to improve the water supply network there. Later, Wasa paved the roads and alleys with water-bound macadam. Now, before Wasa completed the repairs, the city corporation has started digging two of the roads and six of the alleys again to install concrete pipes to improve the sewerage system.
Mahbuba Habib, the owner of a five-storey building in the area, said, "Now the roads and alleys are in bad condition. God knows when they will be repaired."
Over the last three years, some alleys in Monipuripara become waterlogged during the rainy season. The situation became even worse when the sewage line started overflowing. It had become a regular phenomenon, and compelled affected people to hire sewer cleaners to dig into the roads and alleys. They found that Dhaka Wasa's age-old sewerage network had become almost dysfunctional. The pipes were broken and clogged in many places. As a short-term remedy, local people dug-up the roads to install bypass pipe lines without any formal permission from the authorities. This has happened several times.
In October last year, Dhaka Wasa launched its water supply network improvement project in Monipuripara. It replaced the old iron pipes with high-density polyethylene pipes to supply water to 1400 households in the area.
This replacement could have been done using the "trench-less system" or the "no dig system". The Wasa introduced this system in 2009 because the old "open-cut system" created problems for people. In the "no dig" system, only two small sections on a road at both ends of a 150-metre pipe need to be dug. A sharp cutter is used to cut the old pipe underground, and replace it with a new pipe.
But in this instance, they followed the old system. So, the roads were dug indiscriminately, making it difficult for people to move around. The digging has narrowed the eight-foot wide alleys, allowing walking-space for only a single pedestrian at a time.
Underground mud is piled up on the roadsides. As the work also needed readjustment of the sewerage network in some places, leaking sewerage has made the earth muddy. The local people have no option but to walk through the filthy roads and alleys.
Then from February 10 this year, the city corporation started installing three-foot diameter concrete pipes in the roads and alleys of the area to drain rainwater. Even though the project proposal mentions that the pipes will be installed to drain the rainwater, in reality, they will be used as sewage lines. They are being put in to replace the age-old 1.5-foot diameter pipelines that have become almost dysfunctional.
When installing the new pipes, the sewerage in the existing lines needs to be drained out of the area through another drain. But that drain has been closed by Wasa around Rokeya Sharani for another project.
Syed Mizanur Rahman, the contractor of the city corporation's project, said the sewerage in his project site is slowing down the pace of his work, which is scheduled to be completed by May this year. Even if the work is completed on time, the residents of Monipuripara will still have to deal with muddy roads in the upcoming monsoon.
Shamsuzzaman, the regional sub-assistant engineer of the city corporation, said, "We will not start repairing the alleys until Dhaka Wasa and the city corporation complete their projects."
"Moreover, we will need a budgetary allocation approval to repair some of these alleys. There is no allocation in the city corporation's 2019-2020 budget to repair some of the alleys," he said.
He also said Dhaka Wasa has already compensated the city corporation for digging the alleys.
He added that there is a lot of work still to be done, including pressure checking in the water supply network, joint measurement, pit construction and paving the dug-up roads and alleys with macadam.