After three hours of heavy rain, people on Tuesday witnessed severe waterlogging across Dhaka city, which caused deaths, hours of traffic jams, and transportation crisis.
City corporation officials blamed it on poor management of the city's drainage system by Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) before the responsibility was handed over to them last year.
The rain, which started at around 6am on the day, caused waterlogging in the streets of Mirpur, Green Road, Panthapath, Dhanmondi, Banani, Mohakhali Chairman Bari, Malibagh, Kalabagan, Kanthalbagan, Hatirpul, Madhubag, Kalshi, Magbazar, Lalbagh, and several other places of the city.
Officials and residents of these areas reported deaths, severe traffic jams on various roads caused by rain, and water stuck on roads.
At least two rickshaw pullers were killed in Uttara as they came in contact with inundated electric wires in the morning, said Uttara West Police OC Shah Akhtaruzzaman
The incident took place at around 8am on Tuesday at Sector 10, Road No 21, Uttara, causing heavy traffic jams on Airport Road, he added.
"I started from Uttara to Banani at 9.30am but could not cross Kuril Bishwa Road even after an hour," said Mirazur Rahman Patowary.
In many areas, houses and shops were flooded with rainwater. Vehicles moved along inundated roads, which caused many rickshaws to overturn because of underwater potholes.
"I started for my office at 8 am. But as soon as I came out of the house, I saw water knee-deep in the street, while it was raining heavily," Sobhan Alam, a resident of Mirpur's Kazipara, told The Business Standard (TBS).
Sobhan said after three hours of waiting for transport, he took a rickshaw at three times the fare to his office at Mirpur 10.
"Every year during monsoon, we have to suffer like this. As the rickshaw was going through the water, I saw two to three rickshaws overturn with passengers," he added.
According to data by the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, Dhaka recorded 85mm of rain in three hours from 6 am to 9 am on Tuesday. Besides, 21mm rain fell in 24 hours till 6am in the capital.
Poor management by Wasa
According to city corporation officials, the waterlogging crisis is a result of Wasa's poor drainage management and negligence.
M Saidur Rahman, chief waste management officer of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), told TBS, "Our drainage system has the capacity for 60 mm rain. There has been more rain than that amount, which caused the waterlogging. However, due to our canals and drainage system, the water receded within an hour."
Blaming Wasa for negligence, Rahman said, "They had made their drainage system completely useless. The drainage system in Mirpur is very fragile."
Md Sirajul Islam, chief urban planner of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), told TBS, "We have just got the responsibility of drainage system and canals this year. We have been working to solve the problems from day one. We need a little time to eliminate waterlogging."
Dhaka's canal and drainage system was officially handed over to the two city corporations from Dhaka Wasa on 31 December to reduce water blockage in the city. Since then, both city corporations have been removing wastes from the canals and drainage.
However, in many cases, the removed garbage was placed right on the banks of the canals, which have again fallen into the canal in this rain.
Hope for tolerable waterlogging within two years
Terming Tuesday's waterlogging as 'Joljot,' which roughly translates to 'water-jam', DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said, "Usually water stays for more than three hours in a place is identified as waterlogging. In today's rain we have been able to drain almost 100% of the water in three hours although our goal is to drain the rainwater within an hour."
"We will give prioritise the areas where waterlogging has occurred due to today's rains in our next activities. We believe that we will be able to bring waterlogging to a tolerable level within the next two years," he added.
Meanwhile, DNCC Mayor Md Atiqul Islam said, "I have been out in the street since the morning after the rain. We will hold a meeting on which areas are being flooded, where more water is accumulating."
Illegal occupation of 170 acres out of 173 acres of land in Kalyanpur Retention Pond is adding to the waterlogging crisis, according to the DNCC Mayor.
Mentioning he saw waterlogging on Airport Road in front of Dhanmondi 26, Jahangir Gate in the morning, Islam said, "We have to understand where the water goes when it rains. Water will go to our retention pond."
"The retention pond between the six canals in Kalyanpur will not be able to get water downstream, as all places in the upstream have been occupied. This problem is three eras old," he added.