The mayoral candidates of the two major parties have announced their election manifestos for the forthcoming Chattogram City Corporation election, giving priority to ending waterlogging as all previous mayors did.
Awami League-nominated mayoral candidate Rezaul Karim Chowdhury announced a 37-point manifesto at the Bangabandhu Hall of Chattogram Press Club on Saturday at 11:30 am.
An hour later, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) candidate Shahadat Hossain announced his 9-point manifesto at Jamal Khan Dawat Restaurant in the city.
Awami League candidate's manifesto
In his election manifesto, Awami League-nominated mayoral candidate Rezaul Karim highlighted 37 promises that include resolving the perennial waterlogging problem and overcoming traffic congestion in the port city. He announced that he will implement all his promises, if he is elected.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said, "You know that the oldest and biggest crisis of the city is waterlogging. Seeing such clouds in the sky, we get worried and spend sleepless nights.
"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has allocated more than Tk10,000 crore to curb waterlogging and tidal surges. Some service agencies, including the Chattodram Development Authority (CDA), Wasa and the city corporation, are implementing this master plan. A sewage project has been added to Wasa. There must be maximum focus on the proper implementation of these mega projects."
Regarding the holding tax, he said, "The main task of the city corporation is to provide all kinds of civic amenities, including cleaning, sanitation and street lights in the city. Considering modern demands and reality, the city corporation has to take the responsibility of many more civic services. The biggest source of income in the service sector is the holding tax.
"Controversies arise at various times over the holding tax. On the other hand, various institutions and individuals owe crores of taka in holding taxes. To end these controversies, we will conduct a digital holding census to make sure no one is harmed. In this way, holding tax will be determined at a reasonable rate."
Transparency and accountability of taxpayers is also a prerequisite for the continuation of civic services, he noted, adding that maximum monitoring and transparency skills will be restored in the tax department.
The notable promises made in Rezaul's 37-point manifesto are: eliminating waterlogging, 100-day priority projects, resolving traffic congestion, restoring discipline on roads, evicting occupants of canals and rivers, managing waste, developing Chattogram as the country's tourism capital, ensuring 100% holding tax collection, coordinating with appropriate agencies in the implementation of the ongoing projects of the prime minister, re-launching closed civic services, restoring the lost natural diversity and environment of Chattogram, harnessing the importance of Chattogram in the Blue Economy, building a mosquito-free city, discouraging the construction of unplanned facilities, occupation of roads and sidewalks in the city, construction of modern public toilets at the busiest points of the city, installing LED street lights and CCTV cameras on all roads and alleys, ensuring low-cost quality education in the educational institutions of the corporation, making healthcare services more standardised, bringing all services, including revenue, under a one-stop digital server through a complete database and so on.
The manifesto announcement programme was attended, among others, by central Awami League Organising Secretary SM Kamal Hossain, Metropolitan Awami League Acting President Mahtab Uddin Chowdhury, General Secretary AJM Nasir Uddin, member of Awami League advisory council Professor Dr Anupam Sen, Chattogram district (north) Awami League President MA Salam and district (south) Awami League General Secretary Mostafizur Rahman.
BNP mayoral candidate's manifesto
The BNP-nominated mayoral candidate, Shahadat Hossain, in his nine-point manifesto also has attached the highest priority to eradicating the waterlogging problem.
He also pledged that he will implement these promises in the next five years, if he becomes mayor through a fair and acceptable election.
His other promises include the establishment of a 2,000-bed hospital, full automation of the education system, fixation of holding tax at a tolerable level and waiving holding tax on freedom fighters, martyrs' families and low-income people, introduction of an integrated waste management system with modern technology, establishment of an IT command centre, increasing financial assistance to religious place and building an aesthetic tourism city.
BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, Joint Secretary General Habibun Nabi Khan Sohel, Organising Secretary Mahbubur Rahman Shamim, Publicity Secretary Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie, City BNP Member Secretary Abul Hashem Bakkar and Chattogram district (south) BNP Convener Abu Sufian were present on the occasion.
Dr Shahadat Hossain said that if elected, he will recover the city's canals to build a waterlogging-free Chattogram and build dams to protect both sides of the canals. "At the same time, we will repair all the canals and drains of the city before the monsoon every year on a priority basis and make them suitable for a free flow of water in order to reduce waterlogging."
The BNP mayoral candidate also promised to take effective measures to prevent the slicing away of hills in the city.
Pledging to build a healthy Chattogram, Shahadat said even though there are 10 specialised hospitals in the capital Dhaka, there are not enough such facilities in the port city. "To increase the scope of health services in Chattogram, an initiative will be taken to establish a 2,000-bed hospital and several specialised hospitals, including a children's hospital, maternity hospital and trauma centre. To improve the quality of health services, mobile medical units will be set up, low-cost 'remote and virtual' services will be provided and modern 'old age care homes' will be set up for senior citizens."
The BNP mayoral candidate in his manifesto also promised to build an education-friendly Chattogram, adding that the education system will be brought under full automation. Besides, initiatives will be taken to introduce vocational education in secondary schools run by the corporation.
In order to build an eco-friendly city, initiatives will be taken to reshuffle and recast the cleaning department of Chattogram City Corporation, said Shahadat, adding that modern technology and an integrated waste management system will be implemented. Fertilizer and electricity will also be generated through recycling the collected waste, he added.
Besides, special measures will be taken to build an aesthetic tourist city, he said, adding that Chattogram will be developed as a modern and attractive tourist city in light of the beauty of its mountains, rivers, sea and rare nature.
Besides, the lakes and canals located in the city will be turned into tourist spots, he promised. "Electric bus services will be introduced for the convenience of citizens and to prevent air pollution."