The Financial Express
Swasti Lankabangla Swasti Lankabangla

Development Framework: Three tales of a city

Development Framework: Three tales of a city

Development framework as well as the approach that gets set by considering the essence and circumstances of hi-tech, highway and the rich people only, seems to be meaningless. It is very important that the common people have a stake in development.

If an elected corporation fails to build a livable city or does not have sufficient capacity to address civic concerns, what do we do with the city election? Recently the city elections held in the north and south of Dhaka. City voters responded neither self-assuredly nor widely to the elections. Maybe, the citizens of the city are a bit tired! What is the benefit there in contribution or civic participation in such an election if it traditionally fails to address the welfare of the city dwellers? Of course, if the term 'town-people' is only meant for the elite class of the city, it is different a thing!

Case 1

What is the reason for the pedestrians not having any foot overbridge on the Kuril Biswa Road? Students from three important private universities - American International University-Bangladesh, North South University, and Independent University-go through or move across these cross roads. Every day, thousands of pedestrians cross the roads and railway line with a high magnitude of risk involved. No one to see it! It is important to build here an elevated as well as multifaceted wide foot overbridge or a sophisticated underpass with aesthetic design and modern amenities.

Case 2

It would have been nice if there were two foot bridges around (i.e. left and right sides of) the Green Herald School at the Asad-Gate Road, near the National Parliament building. Many important schools and universities are situated on both sides of the road, for instance, St Xavier's Green Herald International School, St Joseph's High School and College, YWCA Junior Girls' High School, Mohammadpur Preparatory School and College, Bangladesh University, and People's University of Bangladesh. Considering the impact factor, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) and/or the city corporation can build two automatic footbridges here. It has three specific effects: 1) ensuring safe passage of students and guardians; 2) the cars and public transports would be less crowded in front of the school; 3) Traffic jam would be reduced.

Case 3

It is an order of the time to run campaign against smoking on sidewalks, roads and in public spaces. Passive smoking has a number of serious adverse effects on public health, especially for children and women. Passive smoking refers to breathing in other people's tobacco smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke or second-hand smoke.

If one has never smoked but lives with people who do smoke, he/she is supposed to be at increased risk of a range of tobacco-centric diseases or illness, including but not limited to stroke, lung cancer and heart disease. Some of the mixtures out of around 7,000 chemicals of tobacco, for example, ammonia, sulphur and formaldehyde of the environmental tobacco smoke irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, which are detrimental to people with respiratory conditions, for instance, asthma and bronchitis.

One might hold right to smoking tobacco, but has no right to cause suffering to other people with the externalities he/she creates by smoking in public spaces. It is a highly unethical practice. In addition to the observation, the experience of long staying in Dhaka City suggests that the situation here is increasingly deteriorating in this case. An executive order needs to be issued to ban the use of tobacco, including electronic cigarettes, in all public spaces, even on the sidewalk, and such an order must be efficiently implemented.

The content of the stories is only a part of likely initiatives required towards making the Dhaka city minimally livable one. If such responsibilities do not fall under the jurisdiction of the city corporation, then the corporation must at least be provided with the responsibility and authority of coordination of such things. It is because of the fact that an elected corporation is supposed to be sensitive to its citizen stakeholders.

Citizens are supposed to be the ends and means of urban governance and development. Therefore, development concerning the city public health, safety, education and other opportunities is thought to be the focus of urban development. In order to achieve good results in this regard, robust policy formulation and effective implementation strategy with efficient strategy execution techniques and skills have to be used together.

Congratulations to the newly elected City Mayors! As far as is known, they have enough qualification and leadership capabilities to make Dhaka a livable city. What they need now is to get the devolution of power, authority and responsibilities with necessary resources, and citizen centric accountability framework. What they need to develop is to build a culture of commitment, and the strategic vision to make Dhaka a livable city. They also need to transform their human resources into human capital with appropriate skills, competences and professionalism. Here the efficient implementation of the mission of citizen-friendly service delivery and urban development, and stakeholders' responsive city governance, with the spirit of courageous and exemplary leadership, is essential here.

If everyone is just looking to the Prime Minister for everything, that doesn't look good. The Hon'ble Prime Minister alone cannot solve all the problems - which are largely related to the collective political commitments as well as leadership culture, and administrative responsibility, creativity, expertise as well as culture. But she must be able to remove the policy barriers here, and could try to build a culture of commitment and draw a map for a sustainable solution to the problems.

Concerning the next generation politics, governance and urban development, she is supposed to focus on bridging and transforming ethical leadership to open the avenues for talented and highly committed youths to come into politics and get built robust leadership competences. The ruling party as well as all other political parties must follow the same path and cooperate here. The new political and administrative culture must be created by thinking of and considering the next generation.

Dr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdaris a teacher, researcher and columnist. He is currently an Associate Professor (Management and HRM), Faculty of Business Administration, AIUB, Dhaka. Email: rafiqul.islam@aiub.edu

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