Hazards and Vulnerabilities of Dhaka City

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Hazards and vulnerabilities of Dhaka City


Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries often faced with natural calamity. The country is under serious threat as a result of climate change and the impact will be particularly felt in low land and heavily congested city like Dhaka. Dhaka is among the rapidly growing mega-cities of South Asia with a population over 12 million [1].

The Dhaka city is vulnerable to flooding particularly during monsoon (June to October). This vulnerability to flooding occurs due to swelling of surrounding rivers and intensive rainfall that generates runoff, which is beyond the capacity of the existing drainage facilities.

Dhaka has experienced a number of floods in each decade. Nearly 50 % of the people in the city live in low lying areas where water-logging and drainage congestion due to river floods and excessive rainfall cause serious miseries, especially to urban poor. The annual rainfall in Dhaka city has decreased from 2103 to 1930 mm from the year 1990 to 2009 but monthly rainfall of July-August (567 and 227mm) has increased to (676 and 482 mm) from the year 1990 to 2009 [2]. With the projected future warming there will be changes in oceanic circulation, and in the hydrologic cycle, leading to altered patterns of precipitation and run-off. The most likely will be an increase in global average precipitation and evaporation as a direct consequence of warmer temperatures. An increase in global average precipitation does not mean that it will get wetter everywhere and in all seasons. In fact, all climate model simulations show complex patterns of precipitation change, with some regions receiving less and others receiving more precipitation than they do now; changes in circulation patterns will be critically important in determining changes in local and regional precipitation patterns. Flood disasters are the most frequent and devastating natural disaster in the Asia region, and like disasters in general, their impacts have grown in spite of our improved ability to monitor and describe them [3]. For the past thirty years the number of flood disasters has increased compared to other forms of disaster [4]. Recurrent floods are being widely mentioned as an impact of climate change, alongside frequent and severe cyclones. The country tends to have more devastating floods because of higher sea levels. This is due to reduced gradient of rivers, higher rainfall in the Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra river basins and melting of glaciers in the Himalayas [5]. Not all social groups are equally vulnerable to flood-related disasters nor are they exposed to the same combinations of involuntary risks [6]. The poor, lower and lower middle class people are the most vulnerable to flooding.

Major ?oods in Dhaka:

Dhaka has faced a number of severe ?oods since its early days and its vulnerability to these resulted in the building of the Buriganga River ?oods embankment in 1864. Severe ?ooding in Greater Dhaka is mainly the result of spillover from surrounding rivers that ?ow to and from the major rivers of the country, as well as internal water logging. In recent history, Dhaka has experienced major ?oods in 1954, 1955, 1970, 1974, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1998 and 2004, due to over?owing of surrounding rivers. Of these, the 1988, 1998 and 2004 ?oods were the most damaging.

Hazards of Dhaka city:

Rapid Urbanization of Dhaka City:

The nature and characteristics of urbanization has remained similar to the pattern during the British period despite the growth in the urban population (CUS, 1976). There was no significant industrialization in this part during the first half of Pakistani rule. The most phenomenal urban population growth in Bangladesh occurred during the 1961-74 inter-census period. Over 6 million people were living in urban areas constituting roughly 8.0% of the total population (BBS, 1987).Thus the percentage of increase of the urban population during at 13-year was striking. That accelerated growth is to a great extent the result of the very recent influx from rural villages. The growth rate of the urban population was 5.4% during the 1981-1991 (BBS, 1997)The total urban population increased to 28.6 million by 2001 (BBS, 2003).The urbanization process achieved tremendous growth for the needs of the newly independent country’s capital, Dhaka. The city’s population suddenly increased to 2,068,353 in 1974 (BBS, 1977), it began to expand in all directions including the low-lying areas of the east (Chowdhury and Faruqui, 1991).

As very rapid urban growth (along with a fast increase in population and structural development) started to take place a new structural plan was needed. The population leapt to 3 million within a decade of the independence of the country and the city covered an area of about 510 sq. km. by 1981 (Siddiqui et al., 2000). During this period the swamps and wetlands within the city started to disappear quickly and new areas of residential, administrational, business and commercial importance began to develop. In addition, slum and squatter settlements also sprang up in different areas of the city (Siddiqui et al., 2000). Keeping pace with the magnitude of the urban growth, the new urbanized areas began encroaching on the low-lying areas within the city limits and even on some adjacent outlying areas (Siddiqui et al., 2000). Dhaka City has faced its highest rate of physical and population growth during 1981-1991, with the population doubling during that decade and the city expanding from 510 sq. km to 1353 sq. km. The city now includes the surrounding areas of Gazirpur, Savar, Narayangong, Bandar thanas and the entire thana of Keraniganj (BBS, 1997). In 1995, a new master plan was prepared for the further development of Dhaka City and according to Siddiqui et al. (2000) the recent construction of a bridge over the Buriganga river has encouraged the expansion of Dhaka City in a southerly direction to the other side of the river. A second bridge which is likely to be completed within the next five years will further increase this process. However, the expansion of Dhaka City is constrained by physical barriers such as the low-lying flood prone areas around the city. Also, valuable agricultural and forested land will have to be sacrificed if the built-up area is to increase. The population of the city is increasing very rapidly due mainly to rural-urban migration. The population of the city reached to 10.7 million in 2001and the population growth of Dhaka has been 56.5% in the last decade, which is very high (BBS, 2003). Understandably, these additional people have created tremendous pressure on the urban utility services and other amenities of urban life. This has resulted in an adverse effect on the urban environment where a large number of people have settled in slums and squatter settlements where they live below the poverty line (Hossain, 2004).

Poverty and Vulnerability in Dhaka City:

Poverty and vulnerability of Dhaka City is clearly revealed through living conditions of millions of poor people living in slums and squatter settlements in the city. The poor urban communities are mostly involved in a variety of occupations in urban informal sectors. And due to a lack of education and employment training they usually do not gain entry into the more competitive formal sectors of urban employment. About 29% of the respondents are employed in pulling rickshaws in the city. Most of these rickshaw pullers are illiterate and have no formal employment training. They mostly received some informal training from their friends and relatives who also pulled rickshaws in Dhaka City. Another 23% of the respondents are involved in street peddling and petty trading. These trades have no registration from the government authorities. And they mostly operate these informal trades with the help of family members. The poor also work in other occupations like construction (6%), driving and transport (5%), garments and factory work (5%) and personal services (8%). A small portion (5%) has some level of Education and work as low grade employees in different government and semi-government organizations. The remaining 12% of the respondents are housewives who are involved in domestic work. The urban poor have no permanent employment in the city to manage their lives. They involve themselves in a series of occupations at different stages of their stay in the city and they often become unemployed. As it is difficult to survive in the city without any employment, they usually undertake jobs for short periods of time. Out of total respondents 22% are working in very unsafe environments where they are at risk of injury or death. Despite such risks they remain in these jobs as they have no alternative in the city. The urban poor have no access to any type of health insurance or safety health cover. Significant portions (32%) of the respondents are subject to harassment at their workplace. The nature of such harassment varies from one occupation to another occupation. The study shows that of 160 respondents 114 (71.3%) faced verbal harassment at their employment. Another 39 respondents (22.4%) experienced physical harassment. The remaining 7 (4.4%) female respondents were sexually harassed by their employers or bosses while working as maidservants or garments workers. They generally do not protest against such harassment because of their vulnerability. They know that they will lose their job if they protest and cause their families economic hardship. The urban poor have no certainty of employment and they are frequently underemployed. About 35% of the respondents were underemployed at least once during the survey year. Out of 173 respondents 54.3% were underemployed and were unable to find another job immediately after leaving a job. A significant portion (33.5%) was unemployed due to some physical illness. As they have no contractual employment in the city, they become underemployed during periods of illness. The poor who work in the garment industry or other factories also do not get leave for illness. If they are absent, they lose their jobs. While they recover from illness they may become employed depending on the availability of positions in the factories. A small portion (5.8%) was underemployed due to visiting their ancestral villages. The remaining 6.4% of the respondents mentioned other reasons for underemployment.

The rates of income, wage and productivity are very low among the urban poor. As they are involved in self-employed, low paid jobs in informal sectors of work they are unable to earn more despite their efforts. Some of the households (3.8%) have a very low level of income (up to 1500Tk. per month) and they are unable to support themselves.1 Another11.4% and 29 % of households have earnings from 1501-2500Tk. to 2501-3500Tk. per month. These groups are also hardcore poor, as they cannot buy the required food from their limited incomes. The study shows that 21.6% and 12.6% of poor households earn between 3501-4500Tk. and 4501-5500Tk. monthly. The remaining 21.6% of the poor households earn 5501Tk. and above. The average household income of the poor households is 4424.30Tk. But the intra-household income differential (std. dev. 2289.46) is very high due to the higher level of income of households with more members in the urban work force. The rate of expenditure in poor households is low because they earn little. Some of the poor households (3.8%) have a very low level of expenditure (up to 1500Tk. per month). And other 12.2% and 30.4 % of poor households have expenditure from 1501-2500Tk. and 2501-3500Tk. per month respectively. The study shows that 22.2% and 12.8% of poor households have expenditure from 3501-4500Tk. and 4501-5500Tk. per month. And the remaining 18.6% of poor households have expenditure of 5501Tk. and more. The average household expenditure of poor At the period of the fieldwork (June 2003) 1 AU$ was equivalent to approximately 40 Bangladeshi Taka (TK.). But presently (July 2006) 1 AU$ was equivalent to 50 BD Taka due to a devaluation of the Bangladeshi currency. Households are 4148.13Tk. It shows a wide intra-household differential (std. dev. 1907.98) of expenditure due to a comparatively higher level of expenditure among a considerable number of households.

The urban poor buy food items like rice, cereals, lentils, potatoes and vegetables at a low cost from retail shops located in their neighborhoods. They rarely go to wholesale markets to buy such small amounts of goods. The average rice intake per person is slightly above 400 grams per day and there is a wide variation (std. dev 123.02) in rice intake among them. The urban poor mostly consume rice and few of them eat cereals at breakfast. With rice they mainly eat lentils, potatoes and vegetables, as these items are relatively cheap. The average intake of lentils, potatoes and vegetables is 23.3, 20.95 and 129.19 grams per person per day respectively. But there are wide differences in the rates of consumption of these items, which are expressed by standard deviations. Most of the urban poor consume fish but they consume only a very small quantity (average 34.07gram). These poor people usually buy a poor quality of fish from local fish markets at low prices.

The average intake of expensive items like meat and poultry, milk and milk powder and fruit are 17.9, 25.59 and 7.23 grams per person per day respectively. There are wide deviations in intake of those expensive items too. The urban poor mostly avoid those expensive items due to their low incomes. But there is a difference between the hardcore and absolute poor in terms of consumption of these expensive items. More than 55% of the hardcore poor did not consume any meat or poultry during the week they were interviewed compared to 40% for the absolute poor. About 64% of the hardcore poor did not consume any milk or milk powder compared to 55.2%for the absolute poor. Most of the urban poor (71.8%) are unable to eat any fruit due to their low level of earning. The percentages of the poor who did not eat any fruit are also higher among the hardcore poor than for the absolute poor. Overall, the urban poor mainly buy food items like rice, lentils, potatoes and vegetables and avoid expensive goods. The urban poor are unable to live on their limited earnings and are often forced to take loans from various sources. According to the survey more than half of the poor households had loans. Out of 252 poor households 26.6% have loan up to 2000Tk. Another 31.7% and 21.8% of them have a loan between 2001-5000Tk. and 5001-1000Tk. respectively. The remaining 19.8% percent have a loan of 10001Tk. and more. The study shows the difference between the hardcore and absolute poor in terms of the amount of their household loan. The size of household loans of the absolute poor is higher than their hardcore counterparts. The average household loan is 8569.16Tk.

There is a wide variation among the poor households (std. dev.11961.16); the minimum household loan being 200Tk. whereas the maximum household loan is 100000Tk. The urban poor have very limited access to formal sources of credit due to their unstable and vulnerable situations. As a result they mostly rely on credit from informal sources. Out of 252 households only 20% get their loans from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), which are operating credit programs for the urban poor. About 12% get loans from cooperatives formed by the urban poor to give support during economic hardships. And another 23% get loans from local money lenders at a higher rate of interest. But the majority (33%) gets loans from their relatives and friends for which they pay no interest. The remaining 12% of the urban poor get loans from others sources of credit including banks. The urban ms an poor have low cost household assets. They generally cannot afford costly it in their household due to their low level of income. The average market value of the assets of poor households is 7254.24Tk. But there is a wide difference among poor households in terms of the market value of household assets. Thus the high value of deviation (std. dev. 10,854.37) also expresses a wide difference among the poor household in terms of their assets. The urban poor have only the most common assets in their households. In most of their households there are a few low cost goods which are essential for urban living. Whereas a considerable portion of households with a higher level of earning can afford some costly items. About 70% households have low quality beds in their houses (while in the remaining households the poor sleep on the ground). The value of these beds is generally low. In most of the households (88.8%) there are low cost cooking utensils with an average value is 1034.8Tk. Only 34.8% percent of the poor have some low cost furniture in their households. Only 33% of the poor own a television and 28% own a radio/tape recorder in their households

Flood & Water logging:

The situation worsens when monsoon runoff generated from short duration and high intensity rainfall coincides with high water level in the river systems. Another is caused by high intensity storm rainfall runoff in the city area which causes flooding also in situations where natural drainage might be possible. When major floods occur they hit around half the city’s area. They are mainly caused by spillover from surrounding rivers and rainfall that generates runoff beyond the capacity of the drains. The provision for infrastructure and services has not kept pace with the city’s population growth. Due to the lack of available information and data, damage

Incurred during the September flood is not covered in this assessment.2 Residential housing, roads, bridges, crops, fisheries, and livestock have suffered the most damage. Output losses have been mostly incurred by the private sector, with the agriculture sector constituting a large share of these losses.

Dhaka city is located on the floodplains of the distributaries of the Brahmaputra, and the topography is almost flat because of deltaic formation. Change in the floodplain water regime due to land development inconsistent with the floodplain topography is the main cause of rising flood hazard in Dhaka city. An estimated 75% of the greater Dhaka area lies in areas at medium to high risk of flooding. Even a slight rise in sea levels could increase this risk. Warmer surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean could also increase the frequency of severe cyclones, and the severity of seasonal extremes in rainfall and drought. Shifting growing seasons and more common disasters represent serious threats to food security, and to any gains in health equity between the poorest and wealthiest households. In late-June 2004, heavy monsoon rains swelled the waters of the Meghna River, which reached its peak level in early-July. The Jamuna and Padma Rivers also burst their banks in early-July, due to heavy rains in the north of the country, causing flash floods in the north and the west-central districts. The floods spread, eventually impacting Dhaka and other central districts.

Although the 2004 floods affected both poor and non-poor households, the poor were generally least able to withstand the negative impacts of the disaster on household income, individual health, and personal security. Women and children were particularly vulnerable to such adverse impacts.

Flooding has been shown to cause epidemics of water-borne and vector-borne disease.<href=”#R2″>2 Water-borne outbreaks of diarrheal illness after floods are thought to result primarily from contamination of water caused by disruption of water purification and sewage disposal systems. However, it has been hypothesized that the secondary effects of flooding, including crowding and subsequent fecal-oral spread of gastrointestinal pathogens, may also contribute to spread of diarrheal diseases.

Flood-related diarrheal epidemics cause significant morbidity and mortality in Bangladesh. Dhaka has experienced water logging for the last few years. Even a little rain may cause severe problems for certain city areas, which are inundated for several days. The water depth in some areas may be as much as 40-60 cm, which creates large infrastructure problems for the city and a huge economical loss in production together with large damages of existing property and goods. The trend of unplanned urbanization that is one of the major causes of water logging in Dhaka City.

Water Logging in 1996:

The main causes of water logging in Dhaka City can be classified into two types. The first one results from high water level of Peripheral River system and the other caused by rainfall in the city. In 1996, water logging in Dhaka City caused by local high rainfall occurred in the built-up areas of the city. The severe water logging in

September 1996 in Segunbagicha khal catchments is believed to originate from insufficient drainage capacity and blockages of the drainage system due to huge volumes of garbage and polyethylene bags. Important street intersections were inundated for four days during 16-19 September 1996. The water depth in some areas was as much as 40-60 cm, which created large infrastructure problems for the area and a huge economical loss in production together with large damages of existing property and goods.

Factor responsible:

Preservation and restoration of wetlands is a must for sustainable storm drainage system in floodplain landscape. It is essential to maintain green areas so that groundwater is recharged adequately through infiltration during monsoon. As per Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan of Rajuk, storm water management boards will oversee the protection of the required retention pond area (12%) within their management areas.

Steps needed: Urban area planning should ensure that land development activities stick to the following principle regarding storm water management: Storm-runoff that would be generated after land development should not exceed the pre-development magnitude.

This can be achieved by making provision for inlet control within individual property to reduce storm runoff, by maintaining green area in sub-catchments to facilitate infiltration and by providing on-site detention storage to trap excess runoff. Floodplain

Wetlands perform crucial detention function in storm drainage process. They are also storehouses of ecological resources and means of recreation.

An example of such a detention system is the Hatir Jheel (wetland) that is regulated by a regulator at Rampura. This detention system is located in the western part of Dhaka City, and its performance is declining because of encroachment on the Hatir Jheel itself.

Impacted sector & vulnerability:


It is estimated that the number of institutions and houses affected by the 1988 ? ood was 14,000 and 400,000, respectively. The estimated damage was about Tk. 4 billion for residential buildings and more than Tk. 400 million for institutions. The 1998 ? ood caused damage to more than 262,000 shelter units, or 30 per cent of the 860,552 units in the Dhaka Metropolitan Area, at a cost of Tk. 2.3 billion. Of these, 32 per cent were permanent and semi permanent structures belonging to wealthy or well-to-do households not dependent on help for repairs and rehabilitation. About 36 per cent of shelter units that were temporary or of poor quality (of katcha–1 type) and belonged to lower-middle and poorer classes suffered damage of Tk. 283 million. Their owners had the ability to cope with repairs but would likely face hardship.

Industry: Most small-, medium- and large-scale industries and factories are affected by ?oods. This includes garments, textiles, leather, cold storage, timber and furniture, and food and agro-based industries. Most of the affected industries and factories usually discontinue their operations during ?ood as often disrupts physical, mechanical and electronic functioning. As a result, garment industries, for example, often fail to meet shipment or delivery deadlines in both the local and international markets. The total loss to large-scale industry in Dhaka in the 1998 ?ood was equivalent to more than US$ 30 million, while the loss to small and medium size industry in the city was US$ 36 million.

Utility services: Water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, sewage management, electricity and gas supplies and telecommunications all suffer damage as a result of ?ood and water logging. For example, water becomes contaminated in the supply pipes as many of these are old and damaged and leak (Box 2). Both Dhaka City Corporation and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority fail to manage the solid waste and sewerage network, and it was estimated that the total cost to repair and rehabilitate the damage to the sewerage system after the 1998 ?ood was more than US$ 9 million.


Dhaka City has been experiencing high rate of urbanization since the last few decades. Presently, more than 11 million people are living in Dhaka City. The development trend of Dhaka is deliberately shifting vertical direction to cope with the extensive population pressure.

Nowadays, high rise buildings are being constructed in every parts of the city but in most cases the dwellings are being constructed without maintaining the planning rules and regulations. Fire hazard vulnerability of Dhaka City dwellers has been increased due to reckless building construction and non conformation of Fire Protection Act, 2003. Dhaka City has been experiencing many fire accidents at present and in most cases lack of proper precautionary measures along with the institutional inefficiency, insufficient equipment support and lack of public awareness are causing this situation more complex. Existing planning rules and laws are also insufficient to the present context of Dhaka City. As most of the dwellers do not know how to use the fire fighting equipments, in most cases all the precautionary measures for combating fire generally go into vein.

FIRE HAZARD IN Bashundhara city:

A devastating fire uncontrolled more than 5 hours after it started in the top floors of the Bashundhara City Mall, one of the best shopping centers in the South East Asia. The fire totally ruined the upper floors of the Mall, where the corporate offices were located. Army, Air Force and Navy came in support of the Fire Brigade, which could not play any effective role in absence of necessary equipments.

Fire hazard in Ha-Meem group:

At least 26 people were killed and 100 more injured when a fire swept through Ha-Meem Group’s sportswear factory at Narsi. The fire started in the finishing section on the ninth floor around 1:00pm. Most of around 5,000 workers of the factory were out for lunch at that time in Ashulia. Of the deceased, three suffocated while the rest died falling from the 11-storey factory trying to escape the inferno. Police, Rapid Action Battalion and army personnel helped the firefighters bring the situation under control.

Of the unfortunate 26, eight died at Shin-Shin Japan Hospital Ltd, one each at Nightingale Medical College Hospital and Doctors’ General Hospital in Ashulia, five at Ashulia Centre for Women and Children Health, four at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, three at Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar, one at Savar Combined Military Hospital and three at the factory. Many others were injured hurtling down the stairs. Survivors said around 300 workers were either having lunch on the top-floor canteen or working on the ninth floor.

Nimtoli fire:

On 4 June 2010 there occurred a devastating fire at Nimtoli, near old Dhaka. The fire was started when an electrical transformer exploded. The head of the fire department speculated that the fire was fanned by chemicals and other flammable products stored in shops. The density of the residential area affected made it difficult for firefighters to quell the blaze. Also, the narrow lanes of Old Dhaka and staircases of old buildings made it difficult for fire service equipment to enter the area.

The fire affected multiple residential buildings in the Nimtoli area, and trapped residents inside apartments. The fire started at 10.30 pm and lasted for over three hours. At least 117 people were killed and over 100 injured by the fire. The fire affected a wedding party, which exacerbated the casualties. One of the buildings affected by the fire had no fire escapes and its windows were covered by metal grills.

The injured were treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, which struggled to cope with the large number of patients suffering burns and smoke inhalation. According to a doctor at the hospital, most of the deaths appeared to have been caused by smoke inhalation rather than burns.

Bijoynagar fire:

Three people have been burnt alive in a fire in a multi-storey building at Bijoynagar in the city. Fire fighters said the fire erupted in the sixth and seventh floors of the building located at 175 Syed Nazrul Islam Sarani in the morning on 2 Jul 2011 Saturday. The deceased were identified as workers of the affected building.

Fire Service and Civil Defence central control room’s duty officer told bdnews24.com the fire erupted around 5am.Ten units of the Fire Service brought the flames under control after about two hours, he said. The floors, which caught fire, house the office of one ‘State Media’ and the victims are suspected to be its employees. Reason for the fire and extent of damage could not be known immediately.

Health hazard:

Rapid urbanization, economic activities and development as well as population growth in the last decades have changed the physical environment condition of Dhaka, degraded the city environment through over exploitation or utilization, and the mismanagement of its environment al components. The city environment now is far from the ideal due to many factors and issues that primarily originate from human activities and lifestyle.

Dengue fever in the city: Bangladesh, July 25 — Dengue, the mosquito-borne virus fever, is occurring sporadically in the capital, as indicated by a rise in the number of patients with dengue complications being admitted to different hospitals, clinics and private medical centers every day.

The specialist physicians urged the authorities concerned along with city dwellers to create awareness about this virus fever and work together to destroy all breeding places of the mosquito in the city and get rid of the disease.

Dengue is not new in the country. In 1965, dengue was detected as “Dhaka Fever,” and in 1999, 13.7% children were found infected with dengue virus in a serological survey at Chittagong Medical College. Since then, it has appeared to be a seasonal disease (Bangladesh Observer 2002).

Safe drinking water, sanitation and health:

As mentioned earlier that 9 millions of people of Dhaka city living in slums and squatters suffer from inadequate safe drinking water and sanitation services. This situation worsens during monsoon season all over the city causing the spread of a number of water borne diseases like. Diarrhea Dysentery Skin disease Fever In fact, poor people living in the slums and squatters are most affected due to lack of utility services.

Building collapse:

Collapse, cracks in Tejgaon for pilings:

Dhaka, May 21 (bdnews24.com)—Pilings for construction of a building at Nakhalpara in Tejgaon have caused four tin-roofed houses to collapse and nearby buildings and streets to develop chinks. The houses crumbled in the small hours of Saturday due to the fault in the pilings of Impulse Medical College and Hospital building near private television station Channel i building. Several other residential buildings are at risk of collapse due to the obvious disturbance. Fire Service personnel at the scene have asked residents of some neighboring houses to move out. Troops have been called in to sandbag the site of the under-construction building from further collapse.

Dhaka – A four-storey apartment building collapsed

2010-06-02 10:44

In Dhaka debris buried some nearby shanties, killing at least 14 people and leaving several others trapped, authorities said on Wednesday, June 06, 2010. Fire official Abdus Salam said some of those trapped were feared dead.

Rescuers recovered four bodies after 10 bodies were pulled earlier from the wreckage and six injured people were rescued and taken to hospital, Salam said. There were casualties in the tin-roof shanties, he said. Army troops joined the rescue work.

“We see more people crushed under the debris,” Salam told The Associated Press from the site of the accident in Dhaka’s central Tejgaon district. “So the death toll is likely to go up.”Salam said the four-story building was built on what was once a canal and the owner had been adding another story to it. Local media reported the owner had not sought permission from the city development authorities to add the new story. They cited officials from the Capital Development Authority, which oversees building construction in Dhaka. Dhaka is a teeming city of more than 10 million people, and its many of the buildings are constructed without proper design and with poor materials.

Traffic jam:

Now a day’s traffic jam in Dhaka city becomes more intolerable and wasting valuable working hours. The people’s conditions are becoming more vulnerable due to traffic jam in the case of emergency.

Traffic jam is obstructing trade and commerce. Illegal parking is another reason for traffic jam. Cars, trucks and other vehicles are parked almost everywhere. Faulty traffic signaling systems, inadequate manpower and narrow road spaces and overtaking tendency of drivers create pro-longed traffic congestions and intensify sufferings of commuters keeping people motionless as well as creating suffocating condition in the streets. Also there are bus terminals not authorized by the traffic department and drivers do not go by traffic rules. VIP protocol maintaining is another reason for frequent traffic jams in the streets and divider problem in the city’s different important roads also causes congestion. Besides, illegal car parking, and unplanned road excavating on the same road by Water and Sewer Authority (WASA), Dhaka Electric Supply Authority (DESA), telephone and telegraph agencies without any integration among them, is responsible for intolerable traffic jams.

Causes of traffic jam

(a) City lay-out (master plan) and over-population: The causes of traffic congestion in Dhaka city are multifarious. Starting from the city itself, it is observed that the skeleton, structure and lay-out of Dhaka City are not well-planned and well-directed. Dhaka is also a highly populated city. More than one crore people live here and the figure is increasing day by day. This huge population acts as an auto-catalyst of traffic congestion in Dhaka City.

(b) Inadequate and unplanned roads: Dhaka City has very inadequate road networks. For a standard city, where the minimum road requirement is 25%, Dhaka has only 7.5% road of its total area. 30% of this 7.5% road is also occupied by the hawkers, salesman and shopkeepers. A significant portion is occupied by construction materials and waste-containers of the City Corporation. As a result, vehicles do not get sufficient space to move on.

Besides this, in most cases roads are serpentine rather than being straight. This ultimately breeds a number of unnecessary junctions where vehicles automatically slow down. Again, these roads are also not well constructed and regularly repaired. City Corporation, DESA, WASA, BTTB excavate the roads randomly without any integrated and central plan. Lack of proper maintenance causes the vehicle to stop without any prior notice. During the rainy season the situation becomes more critical while the roads go under water due to heavy rain.

(c) Heterogeneous vehicles and inadequate public transport: Dhaka is a city of heterogeneous vehicles. Human puller to latest model automobile, mechanical to non-mechanical, slow to fast-moving, nothing left on the road of Dhaka. It is quite difficult to control all these vehicles on the same road as they have different speed capacity. Besides this, public transport system in Dhaka city is not adequate and properly-routed. Instead of big and spacious buses, presence of large number of mini-buses and private vehicles can only contribute to carry few passengers, but not to reduction of traffic congestion.

(d) Rail crossing: Everyday we are experiencing movement of 74 trains to and from Dhaka. On an average, it takes five minutes to get the clearance for each crossing. Thus in one crossing, everyday the vehicles stop for six hours that is really difficult to offset.

(e) Insufficient parking arrangement and road blockage: Limited parking arrangement is another major cause of excessive traffic in Dhaka City. It has become a regular practice to park the car on road. Even during rush hours, people are seen loading and unloading their vehicles on a busy road. City transports also stop here and there without any valid reason.

The three major bus stations, Sayedabad, Gabtoli and Mohakhali do not have sufficient capacity to accommodate all the buses operating from here. A recent addition to road blockage is the long queue of vehicles at CNG stations, which is really difficult to overcome.


(a) People are not law abiding: At this stage, I am going to mention a few problems that we always face to address the traffic issues. Most important problem that we realize ‘people are not law abiding, they do not want to follow traffic rules’. Pedestrians show less interest to use footpath, foot-over-bridge or under-pass. Similarly, drivers neither try to maintain the speed nor follow the lane. In most cases, as the punishment is nominal, they tend to breach the rules again and again.

(b) Inadequate logistics: Our traffic management system is not automated and well-equipped. All the junctions are not facilitated with signal lights. Where there are lights, most often those remain out of order. Moreover, uneven flow of vehicles from different directions reduces the effectivity of traffic signals.


To reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka City, the most vital prerequisite that I feel, is the development of public consciousness. Unless and until we change our perception and develop a mind to abide traffic rules, whatever strategy we take, that will not work properly. The conditions are becoming severe day by day. We can assume the traffic jam as the daily city life hazard.

Our law-abiding consciousness, good-intention and sincere co-operation can remarkably reduce the hazards and vulnerabilities in Dhaka city.


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