Several areas in the capital remained waterlogged on Saturday, disrupting the daily activities of the residents as rainwater accumulated during six hours of continuous heavy showers on Thursday night had not yet drained away.
As of Saturday evening, areas such as Jurain, Dogair, Shyampur, Rajakhali, Nandipara in Dhaka South, and Dakshin Khan, Uttar Khan, Abdullahpur, Faydabad, Azampur, and Ashkona in Dhaka North remained submerged.
Officials from the two city corporations in Dhaka say the delay in water drainage is primarily due to the inadequate drainage infrastructure in these areas, and city corporation workers are working to clear the accumulated water.
They said the extent of flooding in the capital has decreased significantly this year compared to previous years.
However, inhabitants of these areas voiced their frustration over the suffering caused by the waterlogging.
Shamsul Arefin regularly commutes along the road adjacent to Uttara's Azampur railway line, but on Saturday evening, he had to take an alternate route to return home due to persistent waterlogging on this road.
"This road has been inundated since Thursday night, making it exceedingly challenging for people in the area to move around. I even witnessed a car overturning in the morning," he said.
"I have not observed any actions taken by the city corporation to alleviate the water accumulation on this road," he added.
Fahim Hossain, a shopkeeper in the Dogair area, said, "There is knee-deep water on the road right in front of my shop. For the past two days, we have seen a significant drop in customers. This road has become almost deserted, with only rickshaws plying it. The rickshaw fares have also skyrocketed."
Around 134 mm of rainfall was recorded in Dhaka on Thursday causing severe waterlogging in several parts of the capital.
Chief Executive Officer of the Dhaka North City Corporation, Md Selim Reza, told The Business Standard (TBS), "City residents tend to dispose of everything into the drains. Nevertheless, we have witnessed significant improvements in recent years, and there is potential for further positive changes."
An official from the Dhaka South City Corporation said in the past, water from New Market and its surrounding areas used to flow into the Buriganga River through the drains in the Azimpur-New Paltan Lane area. However, this road was closed after the Pilkhana massacre in 2009, and for over a decade, the authorities have been unable to find an alternative route.
To address this issue, a project valued at approximately Tk5 crore is currently in progress, aimed at facilitating the drainage of water from the New Market area. Upon completion, this project will redirect the water in the New Market area to the Buriganga River via the Kalunagar canal, as per the official.
During the previous fiscal year, the Dhaka South City Corporation allocated Tk132 crore for waterlogging and canal development. In the current fiscal year, Tk152 crore has been allocated for these sectors.
Over the past decade, both Dhaka Wasa and the city corporations have collectively invested at least Tk3,000 crore to combat waterlogging. Since taking over responsibility from Dhaka Wasa on 31 December 2020, the two city corporations of Dhaka have expended a total of Tk1,000 crore over the course of three financial years.
"Flooding occurs when it rains heavily. I have seen it in China, I have seen it in Malaysia, I have also seen it in India. Most of the flooding occurs due to blocked drain lines in Dhaka city. Different places have problems for different reasons. The normal flow of water has been disrupted due to various reasons including canals being encroached and filled, many of the master lines constructed by WASA being ineffective and inadequate, filling up of local reservoir ponds," Dhaka South City Corporation Executive Engineer Khairul Baker told TBS.
He said that many master lines have to be made to drain out the waters after heavy rains.
"Construction work is starting gradually," he added.
The official said the work of cleaning, de-encroachment and beautification of canals and water bodies has started, adding dysfunctional pump stations are being made operational. Inoperable switchgates and regulators repaired and made operational.
Meanwhile, urban planners emphasise that even with full functionality of Dhaka's drainage system and canals, it may not be feasible to reduce flooding by more than 25%.
Professor Adil Mohammed Khan, executive director of the Institute for Planning and Development (IPD), pointed out that the unregulated development of new areas in Dhaka is contributing to the worsening waterlogging situation.
"Various organisations, including city corporations, Wasa, Rajuk, and the Water Development Board, share responsibility for Dhaka's waterlogging. Factors such as reservoir filling, canal encroachment, and the lack of development of local drainage systems are expected to exacerbate waterlogging over time," he said.
Rains likely to continue till 25 September
Rains may continue in Dhaka and other parts of the country till 25 September, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD).
"Rain may continue across the country till Monday. There is a chance of heavy to very heavy falls in the northern parts of the country, including Rangpur and Rajshahi, in the next few days," Afroza Sultana, a meteorologist, said.
According to a bulletin of the Met Office, "Light to moderate rain or thundershowers accompanied by temporary gusty wind is likely to occur at most places over Rangpur, Rajshahi, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions and at many places over Dhaka, Khulna, Barishal and Chattogram divisions with moderately heavy to very heavy falls at places over the country."
The met office recorded 10 mm of rainfall in Dhaka in 24 hours till 6pm on Saturday.