Dhaka City has formally got the elected mayors in office ----one on May 13 and the other on 16 respectively. For Atiqul Islam, this is his second term as he served for about a year on winning a by-election for the Dhaka North City Corporation following the first mayor Annisul Huq's untimely death. Fazle Noor Taposh relinquished his parliamentary seat in order to contest the mayoral polls. He now takes charge of the Dhaka South City Corporation. Both were ruling party candidates and scored emphatic victories -albeit in an election of low turnout of voters. At the time the polls were held, the most pressing problems facing the inhabitants of the capital city were intractable traffic jam on its roads, environmental pollution including that of water bodies and dengue attack at home. The next cumbersome problem was water-logging on city roads even from moderate rainfalls. Accordingly, the election manifestoes prioritised such issues.
However, since then not only Dhaka nor Bangladesh but also the world has changed and changed beyond recognition. The agent of change is a submicroscopic virus called novel coronavirus. It is on a rampage almost all over the world. With its origin in Wuhan, China, the virus has actually forced reappraisal of relations between man and Nature. It does not need lethal weapons like the terror or radical groups to strike fear in people's mind but its invisible presence is enough to scare anyone from the ordinary mortal on the street to the mighty ruler of the most powerful country. Never before did people the world over experience such a prolonged home confinement termed in the lexicon of health science 'lockdown'. Bangladesh nationals are no exception to this rule. Such is the apparent total capitulation of this highly advanced civilization to this virus.
The two mayors are aware of the enormous socio-economic changes and the daunting challenges facing them. While the old problems remain as those were, the immediate concern for them should be to ensure that the city people under their respective jurisdiction tide over this corona pandemic as unscathed as possible. Sure enough, the government has taken a number of programmes for feeding the poor and the vulnerable. In their capacities as city fathers, they can help streamline the distribution channel and system so that none of the suffering community is left out and there is no overlapping or irregularity.
Last time dengue also stopped just short of spreading like a pandemic. Mosquito spray did neither kill aedes nor destroy their breeding grounds. Under no circumstances should this variety of mosquito be allowed to proliferate and spread dengue. If that happens, Dhaka people will have to confront a hellish nightmare. Thankfully, the city corporations have already started an anti-dengue campaign. It should be carried out to its logical end. The fight against both coronavirus and aedes must be conducted simultaneously because cleanliness is a high point in both cases. Contingency plans are required to fight both the enemies off. The two mayors must demonstrate their sense of purpose and ideas in order to be equal to the challenge.