People in cities suffer from poor liveability

Urban population growth in Bangladesh highest in SA

Shakhawat Hossain

People living in urban areas, especially in Dhaka, suffer from inadequate and poor quality of services, particularly housing, health, transport, water supply and sanitation, experts said.
Officials and experts said that the country’s urban population growth, which was highest in South Asia, adversely impacted on economic performance and general liveability of urban settlements.
According to World Bank, the annual growth of urban population in Bangladesh was 3.52 per cent, followed by Pakistan 3.2 per cent, Nepal 3.2 per cent, India 2.38 per cent and Sri Lanka 0.87 per cent until 2014.
Officials, however, said the population growth in Dhaka was almost 6 per cent, double the rate recorded at the national level.
The high growth of urban population has been attributed to the influx of rural-to-urban migration by the poor in the past two decades.
Former caretaker government adviser Mirza Azizul Islam, also an economist, said that the poor usually crowded the cities mainly in Dhaka in search of better opportunities.
Widening disparities between urban and rural areas resulted in massive internal migration, he said, adding that the disparities should be addressed to curb the rate of rural-to-urban migration.
A United Nations report in 2014 ranked Dhaka the 11th most populous city of the world with a population of just under 1.7 crore. It was ranked the 24th populous city in 1990 with 66.21 lakh people.
High land prices, a large slum population, poor housing quality, traffic congestion, water shortages, poor sanitation and drainage, irregular electric supply, increasing air pollution, poor governance and growing problems of law and order
become the characteristics of the capital and other main cities, World Bank stated in an aide-memoire recently sent to the government.
Traffic problem becomes most tormenting nowadays in Dhaka. Commuters said they had to wait more than an hour to cross an intersection often.
Finance minister AMA Muhith said that new initiatives needed to solve traffic jam in Dhaka.
He said satellite towns should be developed to absorb rural-to-urban migration to reduce pressure on the capital.
City planner Nazrul Islam, however, said decisions of relocating industrial units, particularly the apparel factories and tanneries, should be implemented without delay instead of developing townships.
It would reduce the population pressure the capital has been enduring for decades, said Nazrul Islam, also the former University Grants Commission chairman.
The government decision to relocate about 1,000 apparel factories employing nearly five lakh people, mostly women, to Munshiganj has been pending for long.
It also failed in the past 10 years to relocate hazardous tanneries from the city to Savar to stop discharging untreated chemical waste to the river Buriganga.
Experts said that the population of the city would continue to increase unless implementation of decentralisation programmes.
They said that high labour intensive industries like apparel factories, tanneries, sawmills, welding, plastic and polythene factories should be removed to district towns to save the capital from the influx of population.

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