Can two mayors serve Dhaka, properly?

A part of Dhaka's Dhanmondi towards west

It seems that no one can stop the government scissor into two the 150-sqkm clumsy and highly-densed mega city with some 20 million dwellers “with a view to provide better service” with two mayors, instead of one, in their five-year terms.

It’s been evident when the prime minister on Sunday defended the government plan, which was placed in parliament last week for a passage into law, saying that only one elected man is unable to provide all the services since the city is continued to be expanded for pressure of growing population.

So, whatever our question or doubt is, it’s solved following such remark by the head of government.

But, is it something like magic going to happen?

“Does the plan say anything about increasing the manpower of the corporation in different utility sectors to ensure better service?” or “does it contain rules for punishing the incompetent and corrupt officials who are, for years, neglecting their duties as public servants?” – I don’t know or I can say I’m sure these are absent.

Here, her remark hints that the past and the present (expired though) mayors were not successful in improving living standards in the city, the main hub of the country where everyday people from the across the country come in hoping better pay and life for their efforts.

It also may substantiate that the mayors in place could not address the loopholes in providing civic services to the Dhakaites.

I find some problems responsible for the city still in a shabby condition over the golden years of the 21st century.

In recent surveys, Dhaka ranked near top among the least liveable cities in the world in terms of environment, utilities, public health and sanitation, education, infrastructure, political and social stability, crime rate etc.

It means a lot to me. But when the matter should have shocked the authorities – both the representatives and the administration – it actually could not because, the situation did not improved, visibly, in the recent past.

The 92 wards of Dhaka City Corporation and its headquarter are run by “elected” people from the society, whereas other officials in administration and execution are appointed through competitive tests.

The conflict begins here and the crucial teamwork, it requires to materialise the ambitious plans by the government’s administration and the elected representatives to “develop” the city, flops.

The good works, necessary for the city, are also hindered by bureaucratic complexities.

We can see that only the grammatical development activities are carried out every year following disbursement of budgets, which the present mayor several times said to be insufficient, and no small, unique and effective measures to give the people, without VIP or VVIP heights, a better living than before.

Right; only the sufferers, not those aristocrats in the highly sophisticated areas, know where the shoe pinches. And that’s why the mayors, councillors (now defunct ward commissioners), high-ups in the corporation and other government bodies, the MPs, ministers, the prime minister and the president are reluctant or I can easily say “slow” in easing people’s owes.

Interestingly, the uneven manholes in front of the Prime Minister’s Office were repaired after a long time in September, days before the visit of her Indian counterpart in Dhaka.

Well, sometimes external factors bring good to the people.

Only the VIP roads have lamps, road signs, police patrol; those are comparatively wider and have footpaths.

Like the other Dhakaites, I can write a thousand words about the irritations of the dwellers. But in short, three points must be highlighted as a reminder: mosquito, wastage and traffic jam.

These problems are gradually being worsening. I’m quite sure that I’d not find a single person who is happy to see these around, still, in present.

And I doubt our prime minister with her strong hand could run the capital better with “two mayors” and different administrative bodies, which already is popular for non-coordination.

The divide and rule theory is not supposed to work here “for the people”, I think, but for the rulers.


  1. So, now the conflict mounts as the High Court in response to a petition by Khoka challenging the splitting on Wednesday asked government for an explanation. A day before, House passed the amendment bill on Local Government (city corporation) Act 2009.


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