Tk 5,617cr project fails to prevent waterlogging
Every monsoon, Chattogram residents brace themselves for the annual ordeal of ankle- to knee-deep water flooding the low-lying areas following rainfall.
Sometimes, water even reaches waist-length. Ironically, even the ground floor and yard of the current mayor's residence succumbed to the same waterlogging issue he vowed to solve during his tenure, exposing the failure of his mandate and washing away the tall claims of monsoon preparedness.
The situation has been no different this year, as the port city witnessed hours of waterlogging following heavy spells of rainfall between Thursday night and Friday morning, further exacerbating the plight of its long-suffering dwellers.
The Chattogram Met Office recorded 125mm rain in 24 hours till 3:00pm yesterday, said local met officer Suman Saha.
"There is a possibility of heavy showers and landslides in the next 48 hours, " he added.
The heavy showers caused a landslide in the Tiger Pass area yesterday, for which vehicular movement was stopped for around three hours.
A chunk of earth from an adjacent hill fell on a microbus on the road around 7:30am, said Abdur Razzak, deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, Chattogram.
Although the vehicle was damaged, no casualties were reported, he added.
Yesterday, this correspondent visited various low-lying areas in Chattogram, including Chawkbazar, Bahaddarhat, Muradpur, Sholashahar Gate No.2, Badurtola, Bakalia DC Road, KB Aman Ali Road, Agrabad, Halishahar, Chandgaon, Katalganj, Shulakbahar, and Dewan Bazar and observed knee-to-waist deep water submerging the streets, causing even the ground floors of many houses to be inundated.
The mayor's residence, "Mayor Bhaban," in Bahaddarhat area, was found inundated.
The waterlogged streets caused a gridlock with many vehicles moving slowly, and some even breaking down due to water entering their engines. Residents who needed to venture outside were forced to wade through filthy water.
The affected residents expressed their frustration, blaming the authorities for their decade-long failure in addressing the waterlogging issue, leaving them to suffer each year without relief.
"Filthy water from roadside drains have entered our house following the rain. Waterlogging is a perennial problem. I don't know if we will ever get rid of it," said Sheikh Mohammad Ledu, a resident of Uzir Ali Shah Bylane at Rahattarpool KB Aman Ali Road.
'CDA MEGA PROJECT BEARING NO FRUIT'
In August 2017, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved a Tk 5,617 crore mega project, scheduled for completion by June 2020, to be implemented by the Chattogram Development authority.
However, even after over five years, the project remains incomplete, leaving residents frustrated.
Anisul Islam, a resident of West Bakalia DC Road area, expressed his confusion, saying, "I don't understand why the CDA could not improve the situation despite initiating such a massive project."
The CDA chief engineer, Hasan Bin Shams, could not be reached for comment as his phone remained switched off.
Project Director Lt Col Shah Ali did not answer his cell phone despite repeated attempts. However, during a press conference on May 2, Shah Ali informed journalists that the project's progress stood at 76.26 percent.
Many people also hold the city corporation accountable for poor drainage, alleging that the CCC conservancy workers fail to clean them regularly.
Mobarak Hossain, chairman of CCC Standing Committee on Conservancy, said the CCC could not act on the 36 major canals in the city as they are still under the jurisdiction of the CDA.
Regarding CCC's jurisdiction, Mobarak said their conservancy workers regularly clean the drains and canals under their responsibility, but people's irresponsible disposal of plastic and polythene bags hampers their efforts to quickly drain water.
Earlier in November 2022, a study conducted by Save the Children and Young Power for Social Action found that a total of 13.5 square kilometres area of the port city is directly at risk of waterlogging while a total of 52 square kilometres area is indirectly at risk due to unplanned urbanisation.
The study also revealed that 70 percent of the city has vanished in 53 years.
As the city has been developed in an "unplanned manner", the low-lying areas of the city including Agrabad, Halishahar, Bakalia, Mohra, Khatunganj and Chaktai are submerged into water by the tidal surge even in the dry season.
Contacted, Md Shah Jalal Misuk, assistant professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, said, "If we want to get the benefit of the CDA mega project or any other project regarding waterlogging, we will have to go for planned urbanisation."
Misuk, also the chief consultant of the study, said, "We will also have to have the canals and waterbodies of the city from encroachment."