Routinely voted as one of the least livable cities in the world, Dhaka has earned a reputation which for the most part it deserves. With a network of half-constructed roads and unplanned settlements its streets resemble a living, breathing byzantine labyrinth, rather than the capital of country with middle income ambitions.
But all is not lost, there is still hope that the right person with the right vision could transform our concrete jungle into a city of functional beauty. The only problem is for that to happen work needs to begin now. The city needs to be dissected to be understood and put back together in a novel way that eases its problems before it hopes to cure them permanently.
Currently Dhaka's main ailment is the horrendous state of its streets. Aside from aesthetic issues which include the filth and the grime, the real problem lies with our traffic system. Dhaka traffic is now worse than Bangkok ever was and has possibly already caught up with Jakarta as the capital city with the worst traffic. The situation has become so severe that many people will voluntarily work late and stay indoors till they feel traffic has let up before they even think about getting on the road.
With dozens of new cars entering the streets every day, there is no end in sight except for a complete overhaul of our city's roads and traffic system, which from the looks of things will not happen any time soon. That is also why the government should deal with these issues the same way they have set themselves to deal with climate change, through mitigation and adaptation.
To most, those buzz words are indelibly linked to climate change, but they could just be the way out of our predicament. What Dhaka needs is a two pronged strategy, a short-term one to provide immediate relief and a long-term one to fix the very system that Dhaka has created for itself. Adaptation could very well solve our short-term problems, because we cannot change the system overnight. What we need to do is adapt to current the situation with policies and measures which can be implemented immediately and will at least for some time in the foreseeable future improve the quality of life in the city. The DCC's new initiative to segment the city into numerous blocks with different working days is a prime example of adaptation, which seems to be working, but this is and only will ever be a quick fix.
What we need is to look into the long-term health of the city with mitigation being of utmost importance, because it is only after we lessen and eventually remove our problems that this city will re-emerge as a vibrant, cultural and economic hub.