Syed Ali Hasan, 60, was waiting for a bus next to the Ahad police box in Gulistan, was exhausted by the long wait under the scorching sun. He sat on the footpath though there was a passenger shed next to him. But, it was occupied by bus counters and food stalls.
Most of the passenger sheds in Dhaka are now in a similar condition: bus companies have set up counters there, or various vendors have occupied space with their shops, or often floating people or drug addicts occupy the seats. Thus these sheds made for commuters have become off-limits to them.
Meanwhile, the two city corporations and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) have been in a tussle over the maintenance of the structures built next to bus stops.
Officials of the two city corporations said the DMP is supposed to maintain the sheds. Police should evict the vagabonds and drug addicts and clear away the shops and bus counters illegally set up at the sheds.
But, DMP Additional Commissioner (Traffic) Md Munibur Rahman told The Business Standard that the two Dhaka city corporations did not hand over all passenger sheds to the DMP.
"Only Dhaka North handed over some passenger sheds to us, and passengers are using those," he added.
Admitting that several passenger sheds in the capital are occupied by bus counters and shops, the DMP official said, "We generally look after the issues commuters face on the roads. We cannot take actions against the shed occupants as they occupied the structures by using the name of ruling party men or local influential individuals."
The inaction of police and city authorities leaves the sick, elderly and women in a precarious situation.
A number of the passenger sheds at several places – Mohakhali, Banani, Airport Road, Mirpur Road, Banglamotor, Shahbagh, Azimpur, Mouchak, Sayedabad, Motijheel and Malibagh – have even turned into places for dumping garbage.
The overhead sheds have developed numerous cracks and holes, while the iron-made seats have been either stolen or too rickety to sit on.
According to the Dhaka city authorities, the two city corporations have more than 150 passenger sheds. The city corporations installed 100 of those while others were set up by some educational institutions or NGOs.
Two years ago, the DMP sent a requirement to Dhaka South and North to construct 70 and 60 passenger sheds respectively to provide commuters with better city services.
Subsequently, Dhaka North constructed nine passenger sheds while Dhaka South constructed 10 under the Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE) project of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
Apart from the CASE project, Dhaka South constructed another 30 sheds under its infrastructure development project.
Sirajul Islam, the CASE project director, told TBS that 19 passenger sheds that were constructed under the CASE Project now needs renovation.
Sirajul, also the chief urban planner of Dhaka South City Corporation, said 33 more passenger sheds and 16 bus-bays will be constructed in Dhaka South under the infrastructure development project at a cost of Tk6.5 crore.
According to the CASE construction plan, the sheds were supposed to have drinking water, Wi-Fi, tea stalls and phone charging points. But nothing like that was seen in any of the sheds.
Mohammad Farhad, superintending engineer (civil) traffic engineering circle of Dhaka North, told TBS that 50 more sheds will be constructed in areas under the corporation. Work is underway to issue work orders for repair of the damaged passenger sheds constructed under the CASE project.
Prof Dr Adil Muhammad Khan, a renowned urban planner and also the general secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners, said construction of passenger sheds with climate fund is peculiar.
"Even after this, if the sheds are repaired and maintained regularly, city people will get the benefit. The city corporations should set up the sheds with an appropriate plan and carry out the maintenance properly," he told TBS.