Dhaka, Friday   22 March 2019

Mauchak Footpath: Where walking is a trial by fire

 Staff Correspondent :: staff-correspondent

 Published: 05:03 PM, 3 November 2018   Updated: 05:03 PM, 3 November 2018



The road from the capital's famous Mouchak market to the Moghbazar intersection is flanked on both sides by countless establishments -- schools, hospitals, shopping malls, restaurants, offices, and what not.

Yet in a damning example of neglect, pedestrians are forced to negotiate almost the entire stretch of this extremely busy and crowded route without a footpath on either side. Rather they must walk around a number of dustbins and garbage heaps by stepping onto the tarmac - putting themselves in the way of moving vehicles.

Pedestrians' suffering knows no end due to such an important road lacking a proper sidewalk.

Dejected residents of Mouchak, Moghbazar, Siddheshwari and adjoining areas expressed their dismay relaying the discomfort they face passing through this stretch of road without a car, a luxury many families cannot afford. Parents are reluctant to let their children go out alone, lest they become careless walking on the tarmac.

Bappi Kuri, a student of Dr Sirazul Islam Medical College, was seen walking home one evening clutching a handkerchief tightly to his nose as the rancid stench from a garbage dump that has spilled over to take up nearly half the road threatens to overwhelm the senses.

"There should have been a footpath in this place, but there is no footpath here. We can't walk comfortably because of roadside dustbin, garbage and illegal parking," Bappi said in an irritated voice.

Noting that roads without a footpath are a major cause of accidents, Bappi said, "As we walk onto the road, various accidents occur. But pedestrians have no choice as they must give the garbage a wide berth to avoid the stench as well as different types of diseases that thrive on garbage."

"The road's condition is atrocious. There's no scope of pulling rickshaw easily," claimed Sohrab Hossain, a rickshaw-puller in the area, adding that rickshaws often overturned on the road during monsoon, injuring passengers. "We've to pull our rickshaws road condition. If one side of a road is good then another side is broken."

Rakibul Islam, a student of Siddheswari College, told UNB how closing time at their college heralds the most dangerous time, as hundreds of students stream on to the road to make their way home. "That is a very tough time to walk on this road."

The situation is nothing new, yet the authorities turn a blind eye to it. It all gives rise to the question: Is Dhaka a city that cares for its pedestrians?

When UNB placed this question, in its full context before the Dhaka South City Corporation's chief executive officer, it was met with genuine regret as CEO Mustafizur Rahman even conveyed an apology on behalf of DSCC to those suffering on a daily basis.

Turning to the garbage piling up in undesignated spots where the footpath should've been, and spilling onto the roads, Mustafizur said they are working to clear the city and DSCC has a plan in place to clean up all the areas of the capital under its jurisdiction.

"Our clean-up project is already in the implementation stage. The work is currently going on in Saydabad and Jatrabari," said the DSCC's most senior officer working under Mayor Syed Khokon.

"We're working for people. We understand their sufferings but the projects we undertake are also for them, for easing their living. DSCC is very sorry for the temporary inconvenience," he said.

In the long run it may turn out to be temporary. But to those who have negotiated the route almost daily for years with no sign of improvement, the inconvenience must already feel permanent.

Daily Bangladesh/Sohug