Public housing infrastructure that meets a certain basic standard is a relatively uncomplicated undertaking
Monday’s fire was not the first one to gut the Sattola slum in Mohakhali, and it surely will not be the last. Just late last year, this very same slum saw a devastating fire which gutted at least 300 shanties and shops. There have been prior incidents in 2016, 2015, and 2012 as well.
These fires are routine. Year after year, they destroy the lives of those who live and work in slum areas, consuming whatever meagre possessions the residents may have. Of course, a thorough investigation is necessary, and the culpable parties need to be brought to book, but whatever lies behind these fires, one thing is for certain: These slums are not suitable for living.
Simply, people should not be forced to live in such risky conditions in Dhaka. People come to Dhaka from all over the country to work hard and earn a living for their families. They deserve clean, safe, affordable housing. For that to happen, a comprehensive public housing plan from the government is needed.
Aside from the danger of fires, there is no denying that most of Dhaka’s slums are nearly uninhabitable, with dilapidated structures, a lack of proper sanitation and waste management, and entirely unhygienic conditions. Even in the best of times, slums are a public health hazard.
We need multi-storied complexes with proper facilities, as opposed to one-storied slums. The amenities should be of a minimum standard. Many countries have successfully built public housing for the low-income segments of the population; there is no reason for Bangladesh to not do so. We are, after all, engaged in a number of massively ambitious infrastructural projects.
Public housing infrastructure that meets a certain basic standard is a relatively uncomplicated undertaking, compared to some of the other work that is going on in the country. Simply put, the poor need roofs over their heads, and accommodation that meets a basic standard. There is no need to reinvent the wheel in that regard.