BNP’s mayoral pick for DSCC polls Ishraque Hossain is all set to face his main rival Awami League’s Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh.
Ishraque, son of late Sadeque Hossain Khoka, the second mayor of an undivided Dhaka city who served the office from 2002 to 2011, earned his MSc degree from University of Hertfordshire in the UK.
After finishing his studies, he said, he returned home only to serve the country.
According to the mayoral candidate, he seasoned himself for the role over the years and is now prepared to serve the people.
Mentioning various issues like traffic congestion, pollution, crisis in public transport and others, he said he would work tirelessly with the authorities concerned to solve all problems and offer the city dwellers a better life.
During an interview with The Daily Star at his Gopibagh residence, he said, he would press the government to introduce metropolitan government for the city corporation.
Alongside, he said it would be his priority to decentralise the capital.
“Dhaka city must be decentralised,” he said, adding that otherwise the major problems of the city would never be fixed.
“We will not be able to build a sustainable and livable city without a metropolitan government.”
Mentioning his father’s success, the BNP candidate said, Sadeque Hossain Khoka was a successful mayor of undivided Dhaka for the longest period of time and carried out massive development projects.
People brought his son to politics to fulfil the empty space that has been created after the departure of his father, Ishraque said.
He said that he was keen to know about the problems of city dwellers and find out solutions for those from his childhood. This made him carry out many researches and find the possible solutions.
“I believe people will vote for me because they want change. I think neutral voters along with the party’s voters will cast vote for me due to anti-incumbency factor.”
Based on different indexes, the mayoral candidate compared Dhaka to a war-torn region.
The indexes show that Dhaka is on the top of the list of cities that are most inhabitable, air polluted, unsafe for people and unsafe for women, he said, adding that the city is also known as the city of traffic congestion.
“To get rid of the situation, I want to take short- mid- and long-term plans,” he said.
The short-term plans would be implemented within a year whereas mid- and long-terms plans would be implemented within two to five and 25 years respectively, he added.
As per the short-term planning, I want to free all footpaths from grabbers and make them suitable so that pedestrians can use those. Traffic situation will be eased to some extent if we can ensure this, he said.
Adequate number of bus stands and bus stoppages will be ensured as part of short-term planning. At present buses stop abruptly on the roads, blocking movement of other vehicles, Ishraque said.
The BNP mayoral candidate also said that he wanted to increase the number of roads and wants to bring order in mass transport.
The plan to operate all public buses under limited companies should be implemented immediately to bring order in public transport, he added.
According to Ishraque, he would extend all out cooperation to implement the government’s ongoing metrorail and the proposed subway projects.
Asked how to prevent air-pollution of the city, Ishraque said, according to a study, fifty-eight percent of the city’s air pollution could be contributed by brickfields.
“Over fifty-thousand illegal brickfields are situated around the Dhaka city. We will have to shut those down. We will have to go for energy efficient or auto brick industry to save the environment. I will work with the authorities concerned to make this happen.”
About providing safe water to the city dwellers, he said, “I want to work intensively with Dhaka Wasa to ensure safe drinking water and water sanitation.”
Saying that there are several new wards under the city corporation that are out of Wasa network, Ishraque said, he would sit with the authorities to bring those city wards under Wasa coverage to ensure safe drinking water.
Pointing out the failure of the previous mayor of the city corporation, he said Aedes mosquito could spread in such a scale because of inactiveness of the previous mayor.
“If we can play our due role throughout the year and apply right medicine at the right time, I think it would be possible to control mosquito in the city,” he said.
About his plan on waste management, Ishraque said he wanted to set up closed trash compactor containers that would turn waste into compressed blocks. Those blocks would be taken to landfill sites to generate power or biogas or fertiliser.
Besides, he said he would take measures to increase the number of waste recycling plants.
About the polls environment, he said he did not see any possibility of holding the election in a free, fair and neutral manner.
He said they were unsure whether the Election Commission would stage another farce election like the last national election in December 2018.
“We want to observe more about the Election Commission’s activities. Time is yet to come to make the final judgement regarding the city corporation election. The election commission has still the opportunity to correct themselves. And I hope they will correct themselves,” he said.