Shishu Park rickety rides still in use |
Kausar Islam Ayon
Although the warranty period of eight amusement rides at Dhaka's Shishu Park expired some 15 years ago, replacing them might not be possible before 2007 as the proposed renovation and extension project has not been approved yet.
Views of officials responsible for the Shishu Park, the country's first amusement centre for children, differed regarding the risk factor associated with the old rides for visitors.
"We are lucky that there has not been any fatal accidents yet and the rides have run without any major disturbances so far. But that does not mean that these are not risky. We must replace at least some of these and the process has already been initiated," said an official of the engineering department of Dhaka City Corporation (DCC).
Nurul Haque, assistant engineer of the park however thought that there was nothing to worry about.
"Efficient maintenance over the years has lengthened their life-span of the rides and there are no risks of accidents as we check and replace the parts if necessary, regularly," said Haque.
The oldest items at the Shishu Park are that merry-go-round, new trabant, wonder wheel, benkino train, roller skating, trampoline, battery car, chair tower and flower cup ride which were installed by Japanese technicians way back in 1979 with a supposed warranty period of ten years. But Haque said no such warranty was given.
"There was no ten-year warranty given by the Japanese and all the rides of the park are running smoothly as we have updated the machinery and tools from time to time. There are no chances of accidents as the rides stop automatically if there is any technical failure," claimed Haque.
Another DCC official wasn't so convinced. "It's true that no fatal accidents have taken place yet but there is no scope to relax. We must take precautionary measures for the safety of the visitors," he said.
Some 5500 visitors come to the park everyday on an average. According to sources, the DCC earns about Tk 2 crore annually from the park. Some DCC insiders have alleged that no renovation work apart from routine checks have been carried out during the park's 25-year existence.
With growing competition from private amusement centres and parks, the DCC has felt the necessity to introduce new items to attract the visitors.
"I have come here several times and I am tired of seeing the same rides every time. I can not afford to visit a private park but on the other hand this park has not offered anything new for people like us," said Rezwanul Islam who came with his two daughters.
But the proposed expansion project of the 15-acre park has shown no signs of getting off to a start. The Ministry for Local Government and Rural Development is yet to approve a project proposal submitted by the DCC.
According to the proposal the DCC plans to install 16 rides in addition to the existing 12. It has also proposed renovation of the old items.
Shishu Park was constructed by the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation in 1979 and handed over to the DCC for maintenance in 1983. The DCC has proposed to expand the area of the park from 15 acres to 19 acres by removing the police control room, which is adjacent to the park.
Although DCC officials were hopeful of getting funds, they have conceded that it might not be approved before the next fiscal.
"We are trying for a special allocation. If that attempt fails, we will have to wait until the next budget," said a DCC official.