- Waterlogging, dilapidated roads, severe traffic jam and unplanned urbanisation have become nightmare for city dwellers
- Even after a 5-10 minutes' downpour, knee-deep water accumulates on different city roads
- Even the dredging of the Mayur river, flowing through the city, failed to resolve waterlogging
- Uncontrolled plying of rickshaws, easybikes, three-wheelers are trampling from the alleys of the city to the highways
An increasing number of entrepreneurs are investing in a wide range of industries in Khulna division in recent years amidst a relative political calm, security, growing demand and improved communications.
But, the miserable condition of civic amnesties in the divisional city is severely hampering this economic development.
An array of problems, including waterlogging, dilapidated roads, severe traffic jam and unplanned urbanisation, have become a nightmare for the dwellers as well as entrepreneurs of Khulna.
Waterlogging turns into a continuous source of suffering for the city dwellers during the monsoon every year. Even after a 5-10 minutes' downpour, knee-deep water accumulates on different city roads, submerging houses in the low-lying areas of the city. One after another, initiatives undertaken by the authorities have failed to alleviate this suffering, alleged the city dwellers.
According to Khulna City Corporation (KCC) sources, Tk823.79 crore has been allocated in the last four years for developing the 1,175.64km drainage system of the city. But spending this huge amount of money went in vain as the city residents are still suffering from severe waterlogging. Even the dredging of the Mayur river, flowing through the city, failed to resolve the crisis.
Encroachers have occupied most of the 22 canals of the Khulna metropolis, said KCC sources.
KCC planner Abirul Jabbar said to resolve the waterlogging, several drains and a 10-kilometre city protection dam have been constructed experimentally while 12 canals have been recovered from encroachers. Moreover, construction of a 60km drainage system, four pump houses and three sluice gates and recovering 10 canals are going on.
The condition of most of the roads in Khulna metropolis is deplorable. The Shamsur Rahman Road at the heart of the city is full of potholes while the condition of the Boyra to Mostar road, the road in front of Khulna Medical College Hospital, the bypass link road of Abu Naser Specialised Hospital is also very dilapidated.
City dwellers alleged that accidents are a regular phenomenon on these roads. Only 10% of these roads have been repaired under a Tk607 crore project. The project is scheduled to end by June 2022, but the residents of the city are in doubt whether the remaining 90% would be completed within the stipulated time.
Abdus Salam, owner of New Dilip Pharmacy on Shamsur Rahman Road, said that the road is entirely broken with pits and holes all over the places. On top of it, it is always flooded during monsoon and incidents of road mishaps are rather frequent.
"As there are a number of doctors' chambers and medical stores in this road, often patients end up becoming victims of road accidents that only add to their miseries," said Salam.
"Repeated calls for repairing the road have fallen on deaf ears," added the medical shop owner.
Meanwhile, due to this dilapidated road conditions, Khulna, a divisional and industrial city, has turned into a city of traffic jams. Uncontrolled plying of rickshaws, easybikes, and three-wheelers are trampling from the alleys of the city to the highways. As a result, pedestrians and motorcyclists are constantly being the victims of accidents.
Imlakh Khan, owner of Auto Rice Mill at the city's Jalil Sarani, said, "From Boyra intersection to Mostofa crossing, the condition of the road is simply tragic. The road is totally damaged. Vehicles loaded with goods often overturn here but no one seems to bother."
Unplanned housing is developing in Khulna metropolis with small and big houses sprouting up filling the lowlands of the suburbs. The problem of waterlogging is intensifying due to this unplanned urbanisation.
Advocate Kudrat-e-Khoda, general secretary of Sushashoner Jonyo Nagarik's Khulna unit, said, "Waterlogging is the biggest problem in Khulna. Drainage system here is totally unplanned. Rupsha, Bhairab and Kazibachha rivers surround the city on three sides and the Mayur River flows through the city. The masterplan of the drainage system has to be prepared after considering to which direction water of these rivers flow."
Besides, he continued, the city's dilapidated roads and Wasa's saline water are also major causes of misery for the city dwellers. In addition to this, unplanned urbanisation is taking place. There is no coordination between KDA, KCC, and Wasa. Due to the unplanned extraction of groundwater, the water level is decreasing, resulting in a severe water crisis during the summer. All in all, Khulna metropolis is becoming a developed slum.
Khulna City Mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleq said. "To address the damage caused by climate change, in the budget of 2021-22, necessary allocation has been made for the development of roads and drainage system of the city. The budget includes guidelines for expanding the quality of education in slums, and make the climate change victims self-reliant.
He said Tk70 crore has been allocated for the repair of damaged roads and development projects of KCC in the budget of financial year 2021-22. Besides, Tk26 crore has been allocated for the development of drainage system of Khulna metropolis in the current financial year.
"I will make arrangements so that the city dwellers get rid of waterlogging. This is my pre-election commitment," the mayor assured.