Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Ugly hoardings bury scenic port city

Thousands of haphazard billboards have buried the scenic beauty of Chittagong city.
The billboards on the sides of roads and medians have made the port city an eyesore decreasing the visibility of the commuters as well as the city dwellers.
These visually polluting hoardings are standing with advertisements of different commercial concerns in their bodies to cover the scenic beauty of the city which has grown up in the lap of hills.
Chittagong city is one of the rarest cities in the world where one can see the hills in one side and the sea on the other side. This natural diversity has made the city unique and different from any other city of the country.
Trees and hilly atmosphere are ready decorating themselves with natural green for creating a good feeling for the city dwellers. Many people from different parts of the country as well as abroad visit the city everyday for its scenic beauty.
Moreover, unplanned hoardings hanging here and there jeopardize the lives of the commuters.
Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) is the authority to give permission for advertisement through billboards. Sources said the city corporation rent out the space to different individuals or commercial concerns. They build structures and rent out those to different advertising firms or agencies for using advertisement purposes.
In many cases the tenants do not follow the city corporation rules in constructing the hoardings.
Will Ad, an advertising firm, has constructed a giant billboard recently in front of Chittagong Grammar School (CGS) at hilly Chatteshwari Road. Two schools, the Art Institute of Chittagong University and a private hospital are situated within a hundred yards of the spot.
Earlier, people riding rickshaws, auto-rickshaws or other vehicles could enjoy the natural beauty of the hilly area. This billboard in the median now obstructs commuters’ visibility along the road.
Will Ad owner Mansur Alam said they have constructed the structure with the permission of the CCC on rent of Tk 50 per square foot. He said discipline has returned to the vehicular movement on this road after making a traffic island in the middle of the road for basement of the billboard. The people appreciated them for making the island, he said, adding that his firm has rented out 12 billboards to different business concerns in the city.
Abul Mansur, chief inspector (billboard) of the city corporation, said Will Ad has constructed a giant billboard with a unipole violating the CCC rules as they were given permission for constructing a traffic island and a small billboard.
Mansur said they will launch a drive to remove the illegal billboards including this one. He said the companies who will rent the billboards from ad firms for advertisement should verify first whether they have CCC approval or not.
When asked Estate Officer Ahmedul Huq said the city corporation has decided remove the billboards over 20 feet of length to protect scenic beauty of the city. He said the chief revenue officer can say better about the policy of renting out space for hoardings.
Chief Revenue Officer Dipak Chakraborty refused to talk about the policy, saying that the mayor has directed them not to talk with media. Public Relations Officer (PRO) will answer to all the questions of media, he added. When contacted Siafuddin Saki, PRO of the city corporation, said the chief revenue officer knows everything regarding policy of renting out space for billboards.
Mansur said there are 2,999 billboards in the port city under the CCC as Bangladesh Railway, Chittagong Port Authority and Public Works Department have also rented out many billboards in their lands. Many private buildings also have rent out roofs for setting up billboards, he added.
He said they have formulated a new policy to bring discipline in the sector and protect the scenic beauty of the city which is now awaiting approval of the steering committee.
Dr Alok Paul, chairman of the department of Geography and Environmental Studies in Chittagong University, said billboards are important for business in free market economy but it must go in a planned way.
There are billboards in London and many other big cities but these are structured in a planned way, he said, adding that the authority, especially the CCC, should formulate a policy regarding the approval of billboards and signboards in the port city as geographically Chittagong is a unique city.
The CCC should consult with the town planners for formulating this policy and take immediate steps to remove the billboards that hinder the dwellers from enjoying the scenic beauty of the city, he added.
Mayor M Manjur Alam said they have already identified the billboards that have been constructed violating rules. He said they have issued notice to remove the illegal billboards and eviction drive will start soon in this regard.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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