The late Annisul Huq, former Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayor, was known for innovative development initiatives. But after his sudden demise in November, many of his initiatives and plans for Dhaka now face an uncertain fate.
A new mayor will be elected in February.
DNCC Chief Executive Officer Mesbahul Islam has said they would execute all the initiatives taken by Annisul.
Annisul emerged as DNCC’s first mayor in the 2015 election, during which he was backed by the ruling Awami League.
The party is yet to officially pick a candidate to run in the by-polls.
The front-runner to get Awami League’s ticket, former BGMEA president Atiqul Islam, said he would pick up Annisul’s mantle.
Russel Ashequi, another nomination seeker from the ruling party, echoed Atiqul.
The BNP said it would pick a candidate after the election schedule was announced.
Annisul has left a lasting impression on DNCC residents with his tireless efforts to implement his election manifesto of a “clean, green, safe, digital and smart Dhaka”.
Before his death, Annisul accomplished things that many observers had said were impossible, given the intractable nature of some of his obstacles, ranging from politically-motivated muscle men to disgruntled transport workers and land grabbers.
DNCC sources said only one-third of the programmes initiated by the former mayor had been finished.
In early 2016, Annisul undertook programmes for a clean, green and safe Dhaka with seven subtitles including -- Smart DNCC Programme, Clean Dhaka Programme, Traffic Management Programme, Green Dhaka Programme and Secure Dhaka.
Annisul freed public properties like walkways, roads, open spaces, playgrounds, parks, lakes, canals and rivers from the grabbers.
He also freed roads and walkways in Saatrasta, Gabtoli, Mohammadpur, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Abdullahpur, and all the footpaths in Gulshan, Banani, and Baridhara.
During his absence due to illness, the grabbers again occupied the roads and footpaths.
Recently a number of truck owners and drivers were seen parking their vehicles at several spots on the Saatrasta-Karwanbazar link road, from where they were previously ousted by Annisul.
DNCC CEO Mesbahul said: “The drive against the illegal occupation of roads and footpath in the city corporation area is our routine work, which is going to continue.”
“In the last week we have conducted massive drives to demolish makeshift shops and evicted hawkers at Farmgate, Gabtoli, Mirpur, among other busy areas,” he added.
Annisul focused on developing infrastructural and architectural points. He removed around 20,000 billboards from the streets and rooftops of commercial and private buildings.
About shifting the kitchen markets, Mesbahul said: “We are in touch with leaders of Karwanbazar kitchen markets owners’ associations. They are still okay with shifting shift their market to the three kitchen markets at Aminbazar, Mohakhali, and Sayedabad.”
Only days before falling ill, Annisul sat with senior government officials, urban planners, environmentalists, architects, engineers, prominent civil society members and public representatives to discuss ways to recover the encroached canals of Dhaka and ease the waterlogging crisis in the capital.
No headway has been made since his death.
Mesbahul said the WASA and Dhaka district administration offices with the cooperation of both city corporations are carrying out drive to recover all city canals.
Annisul also took initiatives to bring discipline in the public transportation system, mostly for the public buses. They include 3,000 colour coded buses – 1,000 AC and 2,000 no-AC – to replace the existing public buses.
He introduced a special bus service – Dhaka Chaka – and introduced coloured rickshaws in the diplomatic zone as Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, and Niketan.
Construction of 22 “U” loops to reduce traffic congestion, installation of LED bulbs at roadside lampposts, development of 55-foot over-bridges, including two with escalators, two underpasses and a number of zebra crossings, building 10 modern public toilets in DNCC area are ongoing.
Annisul prioritised a better waste management system to achieve the goal of a clean Dhaka.
He planned to set up a waste-based power plant and 3R waste management at Aminbazar landfill with the cooperation of Local Government Division, Department of Environment and Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund, but neither initiative saw the light of day due to fund crunch.
DNCC CEO Mesbahul said some private companies had agreed to work in the 3R waste management.
“We have already contacted the LGD about the matter, and the project will hopefully see the light of day very soon,” he added.
On May 5, 2016, Annisul told the Dhaka Tribune the DNCC had planned to plant 500,000 trees in its jurisdiction over the next three years under the supervision of Prof Abdullah Abu Syed.
Around 2,500 CCTV cameras are under being installed along the main roads and streets in the DNCC area.
Since the death of Annisul, DNCC residents and officials said the people had been complaining through the city corporation’s mobile application about not getting proper services.
DNCC CEO Mesbahul said Annisul’s initiatives and plans for the city corporation’s development would be implemented step by step.
In his tribute to Annisul Huq, Transport Minister Obaidul Quader, also the Awami League general secretary, said: “Annisul Huq dreamt of turning Dhaka into a green, clean and modern city. We will not let his efforts go in vain.”