Ramshackle buildings rattle police
Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Phulbari Police Station in Dinajpur was built in 1875. A report of the Bangladesh Police calls the building 'highly risky'—the shabby and dilapidated structure might any moment be the cause of a serious accident, reports bdnews24.com.

The findings, published from police headquarters, claim 200 out of 599 police stations across the country have been termed ramshackle and hazardous, and in danger of collapse any time.

Police staff are said to be carrying out their duties in a state of panic, finally forcing authorities to select the 50 buildings at most risk and take steps to renovate them.

There are a total of 599 police stations across the country, including 24 of the Government Railway Police (GRP) and two of the Riverine Traffic Police (RTP), according to data from police headquarters.

Of these, only 162 have been built after independence with government funding or foreign aid. Some 130 police stations have no buildings of their own, while 120 have no land of their own.

All 24 GRP stations have been identified as worn out.

A top police official told bdnews24.com that there should be one police station on an average for 2 to 2.5 lakh people.

"That means more than 600 police stations for about 15 crore people in line with government regulation," he said.

"But we have only 599 stations countrywide. There should be more police stations in the country. It is not possible due to lack of infrastructure support."

Apart from police stations, however, there are other police units --- 124 investigation centres, 351 police posts and 161 camps.

Of the 50 buildings selected for renovation, 14 are in Dhaka division, 16 in Chittagong, 11 in Rajshahi, 4 in Khulna, 3 in Barishal and 2 in Sylhet divisions.

Chittagong has the highest number of at-risk buildings, with some 33 stations in a dangerously dilapidated condition.

In Dhaka, there are about 28 such buildings, 21 in Rajshahi, 10 in Khulna, 7 in Khulna, 9 in Barishal.

Some of the country's oldest police station buildings include Phulbari Police Station in Dinajpur built in 1875, Bhanga Police Station in Faridpur built in 1876 Natore Sadar Police Station from 1893 and Chapainwabganj police station from 1899, and dozens of others built at the turn of the last century.

Phulbari police chief, Abul Kalam Azad told bdnews24.com there were three rooms in his one-storey station, one for the police chief, one used for storage of arms and one for all other police staff including duty officers.

"There are only two prison cells in a tin-shed," he added.

The building poses a great nuisance during the rainy season. "

"The rain water comes pouring through the ceiling and destroys important documents. We have to continually move files and documents around to protect them," Azad said.

Kishoreganj district's Karimganj police chief, Subhash Chandra Saha told bdnews24.com the main building of his station was established in 1932.

"The floor is concrete, the walls are made of corrugated tin sheets." They have only recently managed to erect a semi-concrete building, he said.

Assistant inspector general of police (property and establishment), Gazi Md Mozammel Haque told bdnews24.com that a May 26 meeting of the Executive Committee for the National Economic Council (ECNEC), presided over by the chief adviser, took the decision of reconstructing the 50 most dilapidated police station buildings.

Some Tk 90 crore has been allocated for the project to start in July, 2007, through to 2013.

Whether the police authorities had any plans to renovate any of the other 200 buildings facing ruin, Haque said: "We also feel the necessity to rebuild these. But we cannot start the work due to lack of finances."

"Steps will be taken later if we get necessary funds."

Inspector general of police Nur Mohammad told bdnews24.com: "The ECNEC meeting has given approval for reconstructing the 50 most worn out buildings. We are doing all necessary to start the construction as early as possible."

Of the remaining 150 at-risk buildings, he said: "We have informed the government. Steps will be taken to reconstruct them on a priority basis if we get sufficient allocations."

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