Liveable City: No alternative to empowering City Corporations, Expert says
Powerless leadership and inadequate support from Government have tied the hands of urban local governance in the country. Despite of emerging capable leadership through free, fair and participatory elections in city corporations, the elected Mayors cannot fulfill citizens’ expectations due to legal and operational dependency on the government, said Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy, Mayor, Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC). She also urged to strengthen urban elected bodies for the provision of better quality and adequate city services. She also stressed on transferring government lands to City Corporation to build waste dumping stations and social space in order to make the City clean and livable. Despite of all limitations the NCC is expanding and improving its services to city dwellers by mobilizing local resources.
Dr. Ivy was addressing the roundtable discussion on State of Cities: Re-thinking Urban Governance in Narayanganj as the Chief Guest on 18 June, 2014 at the BRAC Centre Inn Auditorium, BRAC Centre in Mohakhali, Dhaka. The discussion was organised by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University.
Ivy said, the state of cities of the country will not improve until the state itself stops patronising ‘the Godfathers’. These Godfathers nominate criminals for ward councilor in elections to serve their vested interests and thus, facilitate the ruling of godfathers and criminals in urban areas. Dr. Ivy urged all not to be limited within roundtable discussions and called for civil society movement to curtail power of godfathers and criminals. She asked academics and researchers to present comprehensive land use policy proposals to the government to let the Narayanganj City to its potentials.
Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, former Advisor to the Caretaker Government and Executive Chairperson of Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) termed ‘urban Bangladesh’ as the economic and political future of Bangladesh and hence, BIGD’s state of city research is making effective contribution towards that direction. As the special guest of the event, he said, a crime driven political governance has been established in cities, which is manifested through control of urban land, transport business and law enforcing agencies by criminals. This type of local governance is closely correlated, in vicious cycle, with autocratic government in the country. He regretted that city ward councilors are less profiling than rural ward councilors whereas popular expectations were quite opposite.
He added, apart from much needed rule of law and visionary political intelligence, three things must be considered to get rid of these problems, a) Creative initiatives in local level b) Strong political motivation against autocratic government within constitutional framework, and c) New civil energy with redesigned objectives and mission.
Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD chaired the event.
At the beginning, Dr. Ferdous Jahan, Lead Researcher of BIGD’s state of city in Narayanganj research, presented the key findings of the research and Research Associates Mohammad Sirajul Islam and Kazi Niaz Ahmed gave detailed presentations on urban land use and social space in Narayanganj.
In the panel discussion, Dr. Tofail Ahmed, Local Government Expert, stressed on empowering city corporations for service-based city governance by removing political, legal, bureaucratic impediments and recovering urban land from the grabbers to let city corporations design and build parks, gardens, and walk ways for city dwellers.
Panel discussant Architect Mobashher Hossain, immediate past President of Institute of Architects, Bangladesh (IAB) said, Rajuk is serving politicians, police, civil and military bureaucrats through plot allocations. He further added, instead of fulfilling the wishes of the government, Rajuk or city development authorities should work closely with the city corporations, all other relevant agencies and authorities should be brought under City Corporations. Emotionally, he demanded to establish a special tribunal to try those criminals who are grabbing rivers.
Barrister Tuhin Malik, Professor Nurul Islam Najem of the department of Geography and Environment, Dhaka University, Meherpur Municipality Mayor Md. Mostakim Billah, Haji Nuruddin, the president of Amra Narayanganjbashi; Muhammaed Kabir Ahmed of Surma Foundation; Rajuk Consultant Hisham Uddin Chisty, and few others participated in the discussions.
Among others, M Hafizuddin Khan, Former Adviser to the Caretaker Government; Khushi Kabir of Nijera Kori; Muhammad Jahangir, Executive Director of Centre for Development Communication; Engr. M. A. Awal, Managing Director of Structural Engineering Ltd (SEL); Mr. Firoz Ahmed, Senior Public Management Officer, Asian Development Bank; Architect Saif Ul Haque; Architect Sujaul Islam Khan, Secretary, Environment & Urbanisation, IAB; Md. Faruk ul Islam, Planner, Directorate of Urban Development, of the Government; Md. Akhtaruzzaman, Representative, UN Habitat; Mr. Per Bertilsson, International Programme Manager of UNDP and representatives from Asia Foundation, JICA, AusAid, ActionAid, academic and research organisations and senior journalists also attended the roundtable.
The event received tremendous media coverage (Print, Electronic and Online). You may find the news clicking below in the links.