Within a year of undergoing renovations geared towards accommodating children, Ramna Park is already showing signs of neglect.
The playground equipment is falling into disrepair. Some pieces are broken, and others are on the verge of becoming unusable, leading to injuries among the young visitors.
The situation has left many parents exasperated.
All three swings in one area of the park are now unfit for adult use. Yet adults continue to use them, often making children wait.
After snapping, two of the three swing shackles were temporarily fixed, compromising the swings' balance and deterring children from using them.
This has inadvertently provided adults with more opportunities to use the swings.
The Public Works Department, responsible for park maintenance, acknowledges these issues.
They have implemented some measures, including assigning security personnel to the children’s area and planning further actions to address the problem.
However, these security personnel often do not stay at their posts, and when present, they tend not to intervene, citing the challenge of monitoring the entire area by themselves.
Despite these challenges, Ramna Park has been a popular destination for children since its reopening at the end of 2022, attracting not just families but also school groups from distant areas.
The park offers a variety of free-to-use play equipment, including xylophones, riders, climbing ropes, hanging bridges, sliders, and more.
Unfortunately, only the equipment unappealing to or unusable by adults remains in good condition.
ADULTS CROWD OUT CHILDREN
During a visit to the park on a Tuesday afternoon, it became apparent that the facilities intended for children's entertainment were predominantly occupied by adults.
Adults were seen using swings, including those specifically designed for toddlers, and even sliding down slides meant for young visitors.
Despite the presence of security personnel, no interventions were made to address this misuse. The security staff, in fact, seemed preoccupied with their phones and did not prevent adults from engaging with the children's equipment.
Adults justified their use of the equipment, claiming there was "no problem" as long as few or no children were around.
They appeared dismissive of the idea that their weight could cause damage to the play structures. Their attitude has left many parents dismayed, with some hesitant to voice their concerns, fearing a rude rebuke.
The park's condition reveals significant wear and tear.
Two of the three swings have broken shackles on one side. One xylophone is missing its metal keys, while the other is partially intact.
Climbing ropes meant for simulating tree climbing are torn, posing a risk to children who attempt to use them. The rope bridge is largely dismantled, and a seesaw has been rendered unusable in the absence of a balance handle.
Additionally, the oval chairs intended for children were occupied by adults, including a security member who made no effort to enforce the rules, allowing children to wait while adults used their designated play areas.
'A MATTER OF COMMON SENSE'
Tahmina Akhter, visiting Ramna Park from Malibagh with her son Shahriar, was deeply concerned about the park's condition.
"A few days back, my son fell and got injured while climbing with the rope. I'm hesitant to bring him here now. I only came today because he insisted. Adults misuse the equipment, leaving it damaged. These need to be repaired."
Ramzan Ahmed, from Dhupkhola, who frequents the park with his daughter Maisha Jannat Roza, shared similar sentiments. "She loves it here, but she can't play some of the instruments because the sticks are missing. These should be repaired promptly."
Lucky Zaman highlighted the need for better management to prevent adults from using children's play areas.
"It's really about common sense to restrict adult access to children's zones. Kids end up waiting because the adults take over. The children's area should be for kids to play freely."
Parents are also questioning why broken or partially damaged play equipment isn't being promptly fixed. They argue that repairs wouldn't be costly and call for genuine efforts to maintain the park's facilities.
Sheikh Parvez, another parent, pointed out, "Many things here need fixing. It affects the children's enjoyment and safety. It doesn't take much to maintain these, just some dedication."
Mahbubur Rahman, executive engineer of the Public Works Department, assured that plans are in place for repairs. "We are planning to take action and are currently estimating the costs involved. Once approved, we will start the repair work," he said, acknowledging that it will take some time to address these issues.
Samia Rahman, a first-year undergraduate student at Southeast University, was enjoying the seesaw at Ramna Park with a friend.
She dismissed concerns that adults using children's play equipment could cause damage. "I don't think I'm that heavy. There are overweight kids too. Is there a rule that adults can't play here?"
Tarin, another young adult, echoed Samia's sentiment, questioning why it would be a problem if adults also used the rides.
"If others are using them, why can't I? If something breaks, we can pay to fix it," she added.
Mishu, 18, from Siddheshwari, was found using various play equipment. When asked about children's access to the rides, he countered, "What else is there for us to do here? We're not that old."
Mehedi Hasan Miraj, visiting from Kamrangirchar, was seen resting on a seat meant for children. "We're just sitting here for a bit. The kids can have it when we get up. We came here to enjoy the surroundings, not just to sit around," he explained.
In one corner, two women were seen using swings, while a middle-aged man took their pictures, ignoring a waiting child. Abu Saeed, the man taking the photos, promised to vacate the swings, saying, "We are just here to take a photo. We'll leave soon."
A child named Safan, under his father's supervision, was seen responsibly placing a musical instrument's stick back in its place after playing.
Safan's father, who regularly brings him to the park from Wari, expressed concern over adults misusing the equipment.
"He loves these instruments, but adults are ruining them. They need to realise this park is for everyone. If we keep it in good condition, others can enjoy it too," he said, emphasising the collective responsibility to maintain the park's facilities.
CONCERNS OVER MIDDAY CLOSURE
Ramna Park closes daily from noon to 2 pm, a policy that has sparked frustration among visitors.
During these hours, security personnel actively usher people out of the park, often leaving children in tears as they are reluctant to leave.
Sheikh Parvez, visiting with his family, expressed his dismay.
"It's quite inconvenient. Why does the park need to close? Many of us travel a long distance to get here. What are we supposed to do during these two hours? For someone looking to relax, especially around midday, the park is an ideal spot. There's nowhere else to go."
The Public Works Department, which manages the park, explains that this break allows for essential cleaning and provides staff with mealtime.
Mahbubur Rahman, the department's executive engineer, said, "We're considering shortening the break to one hour to accommodate visitors' needs."
However, when pressed on when this change might occur, Rahman said, "The adjustment is still under consideration. We haven't made a final decision yet."
AUTHORITIES TROT OUT STANDARD RESPONSES
When questioned about the deteriorating state of Ramna Park and the lack of action to remedy it, Mahbubur Rahman, a Public Works Department official, assured that measures are being taken to address the situation.
Regarding adults overtaking children's play areas, Rahman said, "We plan to enforce stricter monitoring. We have assigned personnel for this purpose."
However, even a casual observer is likely to conclude that these measures are not being effectively implemented.
During a visit, only one security staff member, identified by his uniform as Humayun, was seen. Humayun was reluctant to provide his full name and appeared to be passive in regulating the park's rules.
Despite witnessing adults misusing children's equipment, Humayun did not intervene.
Instead, he was glued to his phone, making video calls and taking selfies.
Explaining his inaction, Humayun said, "I can suggest they [adults] not enter, but if they decide to ignore me, there's little I can do. I can't stop everyone from moving around."
He also mentioned the challenge of overseeing the entire park by himself, saying, "If I focus on one area, something happens in another. It's impossible to be everywhere at once."