Incessant rain overnight had much of the city knee-deep in water throughout the day yesterday, wreaking havoc on life and trade.
At least nine people were killed and many injured as they stepped on power cables that had shorted in the driving rain.
The met office said 290 millimetres of rain fell in six hours to 7:00am. It is a record six-hour rainfall for the capital in 60 years.
The country’s highest rainfall in 24 hours to 7:00am was 333mm in Dhaka. The second highest was recorded in Mongla at 169mm. Meteorologists said a low formed in the Bay joined forces with monsoon clouds and created a unique condition that caused such extraordinary rainfall.
They forecast the intensity will come down today, but the rain spell might continue till tomorrow.
The torrential pouring started at around 10 on Monday night. It soon submerged the city streets and alleyways, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded on their way back home.
With high winds and thunder, it snapped power and phone lines and making roads and sidewalks even more dangerous for late-night commuters. People in the shantytowns were the worst sufferers. They found their huts under knee-deep water by 3:00am and had to take shelter in nearby buildings. Most of those living on ground floors had to spend a sleepless night as they saw water reach for their beds. Attendance at the government and private offices was very thin. Shopping malls and other businesses had few shoppers as people remained indoors.
Children in most areas could not go to schools.
Though it meant sufferings for the downscale urbanites, the rain ended long dry spells bordering on drought, much to the relief of the farmers.
Of those who contacted live power lines, seven including a woman and a baby girl were in the capital and the rest two in Nalitabari upazila of Sherpur.
Shafiqul Islam, 35, and six-year-old Bristi died in the city’s Kafrul area, Abdul Kader, 28, in Fakirapul, Jannatul Mawa, 35, in Demra, Shahin in Mohammadpur and Bahar Uddin, 22, in South Kamalapur and Delwar Hossain, 30, in Jatrabari.
News Agency UNB reports that the Nalitabari victims are Azizul Haque, 55, and Muktarunnesa, 65. The two hailed from Haluaghat upazila in Mymensingh district.
As it poured all night the spectre of the floods that devastated Dhaka in 1988 and 1998 haunted the city dwellers.
Many commuters had to spend the night outside home as their vehicles could not reach destinations.
“I spent the night at a garage,” said a newspaper reporter who lives in Katashur.
“As the CNG taking me home got on Dhanmondi Road-27, water leapt up to the seats. Shortly afterwards the engine stopped forcing me to take refuge at the garage in a roadside building,” he added.
Most of the main thoroughfares including Manik Mia Avenue, Bijoy Sarani, Darus Salam Road, Airport Road, Rokeya Sarani, Mirpur-1, Mirpur Road, Outer Circular Road, Bijoy Nagar and the road in front of the Prime Minister’s Office reeled under knee-to-waist-deep water for hours.
Passengers of the CNG-run auto-rickshaws had a terrible time as the three-wheelers stopped running without notice.
The rickshaws and auto-rickshaws that braved rainwater in the morning charged many times the usual fares.
Saiful Islam, a private firm employee, said it cost him Tk 200 to come to his office at Karwan Bazar from Mouchak.
Liton Ali of Kazipara in Mirpur said rickshaw-pullers charged Tk 50 for a ride that usually takes around Tk 5.
The manholes or potholes added to the sufferings as vehicles and pedestrians stumbled on them and fell in water.
Two international flights–one of Malaysian Airlines from Kuala Lumpur and the other of Dragon Airlines from Hong Kong–failed to land at Zia International Airport Monday night because of rain.
"The Malaysian flight is scheduled to fly in again tonight," said an official from ZIA yesterday evening.
Other flights however left the airport and landed there on schedule, he added.
Bus and Ferry Services Disrupted
Hundreds of motorised vehicles, including CNG-run auto-rickshaws, taxicabs and private cars, were stranded on the waterlogged roads for hours as their engines went out of order.
Meanwhile, only a small number of buses, trucks and auto-rickshaws came out on the roads yesterday, causing sufferings to those venturing out.
Besides, buses running between the capital and Mymensingh, Sirajganj and Tangail had to opt for Gabtoli road instead of the inundated Airport Road.
Ferry services on many routes were also suspended, disrupting bus service on highways.
Operation of launches and speedboats along Mawa-Kawrakandi route remained suspended for inclement weather.
Besides, over 500 vehicles were stranded on both ghats, as ferries were taking three to four hours more than what they normally take to cross the Padma.
Our correspondents from different districts including Barisal, Khulna, Bagerhat Satkhira, Pabna, Sylhet, Chittagong, Manikganj and Noakhali dispatched similar stories.
They said many thatched and mud houses caved in and the flimsy ones got blown away. Many areas plunged into darkness as electricity went out due to heavy rains.
Our Chittagong correspondent reports: Life in the port city came to a halt due to ceaseless rain.
Loading and unloading of cargoes were suspended at the port.
According to the Met office, over 156mm rainfall was recorded in Chittagong city in 24 hours to 4:00pm yesterday.
Loading of bulk cargoes has remained suspended at different jetties and the outer anchorage in the port area for the last two days due to rain, said port officials.
Vessel operation on the port channel however continued, said Chittagong Port Secretary Syed Farhad Uddin Ahmad.
Reclaiming of some city canals by the Chittagong City Corporation seemed to have prevented situation getting worse in rains.
People in low-lying areas like Muradpur, Bahodderhat, Nasirabad, Badurtala, Agrabad CDA residential area, Agrabad Excess Road and Halishahar however still had to face waterlogging.
The low-lying areas inside Dhaka-Narayanganj-Demra (DND) and Narayanganj-Narsinghdi embankments have been inundated due to incessant rain, paralysing the life of several thousand people.
Many schools inside DND remained closed and production at most of the 1,000 industrial units suspended.
The water level in Shitalakhya, Meghna, Brahmaputra and Dhaleswari rivers continued to rise. The district administration apprehended that if rain continues for next two to three days, the water level would go past the danger mark.
At least 300 houses and 400 shops and go-downs in a market inside Narayanganj-Narsinghdi dyke in Rupganj have gone under water causing a loss of several crores of taka.
Joynal Abedin, a resident of the area, said construction of five culverts on the link road was scheduled to be completed by January. But that did not happen, leading to water logging inside DND.
Clogged drains, filled up canals blamed
Clogged and inadequate drainage system and filling up of most of the city canals are mainly responsible for waterlogging in the city.
The city drainage system has not improved with the pace of rapid growth of urbanisation while most of the canals out of around 50 in the city have either been filled up entirely or partially over the last two decades, said experts.
Low-lying areas including eastern fringe of the city are still being filled up in the name of development contributing to waterlogging, they said.
Around 10 canals of the city have either been filled up totally or turned into box culverts to construct roads which has aggravated waterlogging, said experts and officials of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa).
Roads were constructed in Rayerbazar, Rajabazar, Gopibagh and Shyampur Kadamtala by filling up canals and constructing storm water and sewerage lines.
Width of Segunbagicha canal, Dholai Khal-1, Dholai Khal-2, Debdholai Khal and Paribagh canal have been narrowed down for building box culverts. The water under the culverts remains clogged due to lack of maintenance, they said.
Wasa had earlier taken initiatives in line with a decision of the last caretaker government to recover 26 out of 43 canals from encroachers.
However, the initiatives have so far yielded very little success. Besides, once the recovery drive is over, many of the canals again get choked up or encroached due to lack of excavation, proper demarcation and monitoring, experts said.
According to experts, 150 square kilometers area of the city under Wasa requires around 350 km storm drainage line, whereas presently it has now only 285 km drainage line.
"About 90 km more storm water line of WASA is needed to be set up at different areas to strengthen the drainage system,” said an official of Wasa.
Besides, the existing water pipes should also be replaced by bigger ones so that they discharge more waters as most of the water bodies have been filled up at many places," added the official.
Dhaka Wasa had 135 km drainage line in 1990, which is now 265 km but the population in the capital has gone up to 1.20 crore from that of 68.44 lakh in 1991, said officials of Wasa and Rajuk.
In many places where there is no drainage system of WASA, DCC covers the area by pipe drains or surface drains, they said.
Wasa is responsible mainly for maintaining city’s drainage system cleaning them once in a year but most of the time 50 percent of the drains remain clogged due to manual work, said architect Iqbal Habib, joint secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon.
DCC also does not get them cleaned properly, which is also a reason of waterlogging, said Habib.
He said an integrated master plan is very necessary to save the city from waterlogging.
Habib said Wasa conducts drives only to recover canals but their water retention capacity has reduced due to lack of excavation.
Construction of box culvert was also a totally wrong plan, as the passages under these culverts are not cleaned leaving them choked up round the year resulting in water stagnation, he said.
Wasa has two permanent pump stations at Dholai Khal, and Kolyanpur while Bangladesh Water Development Board runs another pump house at Goran Chatbari in Mirpur.
Apart from them, there are two more temporary pump stations at Rampura and Janapath in Kamalapur, he said.
According to the official figures Wasa has now 285 km long pipe drains, 65 km drain and 9 km box culverts while DCC has 999.468 km open drain and 1052.198 km pipe drain.
But as there is a lack of coordination between Wasa and DCC the drainage management system suffers heavily worsening the waterlogging in the city, sources of both Wasa and DCC said.
DCC Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka said the drainage system should come under one umbrella to get better result and drive to recover canals from encroachers is also very important.
State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Jahangir Kabir Nanok said they had already started the drive to recover all the 43 canals of the city.
He said they would take proper steps to prevent re-encroachment.