Annisul Huq is a name that inspires dreams, courage and inspiration.
He served many roles in his lifetime – television personality, businessman and politician - and he excelled in every single one of his endeavours.
As the mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Annisul dreamt of a better future for the people and the city. But his dreams came to an abrupt end as he passed away in a London Hospital on Thursday, at the age of 65.
After he was elected mayor in 2015, Annisul took several initiatives for further improving the quality of life in DNCC.
He spearheaded the city corporation’s drive to demolish illegal structures cluttering the footpaths from Satrasta of Tejgaon to Farmgate area.
While leading one such demolition drive in Tejgaon on November 29, Annisul was confined by a faction of bus owners.
Undeterred, he was successful in removing the illegal structures and later beautified the stretch of road by planting trees on the islands. He also made the road a no-parking zone in 2016.
Annisul never tolerated unprofessional contractors, as he always strived for the best possible quality of work in DNCC’s projects.
He drew the ire of many so-called contractors, but the mayor stood his ground. He allowed only tested and professional contractors to enter Nagar Bhaban, where the mayor’s office is located.
The mayor also took an initiative to relocate the Karwan Bazar kitchen market to Mohakhali and Jatrabari. He held several meetings with traders and businessmen in this regard, and received a positive response from them.
On May 18 this year, he inaugurated a women’s holiday market in Mohakhali. As part of the initiative, Annisul announced that every female entrepreneur would be eligible for a no-deposit loan of at least Tk25 lakh for setting up shops there.
The DNCC mayor increased employment benefits for city corporation cleaning staff, in a bid to improve the cleanliness of the city. Annisul had a habit of checking up on the activities of the cleaning staff late at night, or at the crack of dawn.
Among his environment policies, the mayor launched a project to replace all the streetlights in DNCC with LEDs.
Annisul’s other notable initiatives as Dhaka North mayor include announcing a no parking zone from Amin Bazar to Shyamoli, delivering bills directly to contractors’ offices, launching 4,000 new bus services throughout Dhaka, constructing 22 U-loops, and demolishing 20,000 illegal billboards.
He also implemented measures such as banning rickshaws from major city streets, installing CCTV in key areas of Dhaka, and creating many public toilets.
He had a number of other plans to make the city of Dhaka better in every aspect.
Even before he became the mayor, Annisul Huq was well known at home and abroad as a leading ready-made garment exporter.
People also knew him from his days as a TV show host on Bangladesh Television in the early 1980s. In this role he held many tête-à-têtes with politically significant personalities, even interviewing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP chief Khaleda Zia face-to-face before the 1991 election.
Annisul had been a full-time businessman for decades. After his stint in electronic media, he established Mohammadi Group in 1986 and had been its chairman since.
After that, he went on to head top business organisations like Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the apex trade body of South Asia.
He also led the country’s top garment exporters’ association, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and apex trade body FBCCI.
With no obvious political ties, Annisul was a surprise pick by the ruling Awami League for the race to become the first DNCC mayor, and he went on to win the April 2015 election at a canter.
The businessman-turned-mayor went to the UK on July 29 on family business. He was admitted to the National Neuroscience Hospital in London after falling unconscious during medical tests for neurological problems on August 13.
Annisul was later diagnosed with cerebral vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessel wall in the brain.
He was admitted at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for weeks for treatment. As his condition improved, he was transferred to the hospital’s rehabilitation centre on October 31.
However, Annisul was taken to the ICU of Wellington Hospital on Tuesday when his condition deteriorated. He passed away at 10:23pm Bangladesh time on Thursday.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune