Hostel accommodation for single women in Dhaka city may face a severe crisis in the post-lockdown period as most of them have been forced to shutdown during the lockdown.
Talking to many owners and managers who run such hostels in the city, it was learned that they are now mostly confused as to how to return to the business.
Working women, applicants for different jobs, private university students who come from outside the city usually live in such city hostels due to the huge crisis of accommodation at the government level.
The number of private hostels for single working women in the city has grown as the number of government hostels proved inadequate to accommodate them.
These hostels were the last resort for single, working women or students from outside Dhaka city looking to live in a secured and safe environment.
Tamanna Tamim, a student at a private university who left Dhaka during the closure of educational institutions brought on by the pandemic, told UNB how it is proving difficult for her to find a new place now that she is looking to return, in anticipation of her classes resuming. But her old hostel has gone out of business.
The ones that are available meanwhile, have raised their rent and other charges, she said.
Sapna Akter, supervisor of a leading hostel Nibedika which has more than a hundred branches in the city, said "We cannot express how we pass our time. During this lockdown we face a lot of challenges as we cannot pay the rent timely. We did not get cooperation from the property’s owners in some cases."
"Even we did not find any solution complaining to the police as the house owners are influential. They threw out the furnitures, goods of the tenants in their absence," she also said.
She added that they are trying their best to protect the possessions of the tenants who have left these behind in many cases, especially important paperworks.
Longtime lockdown has almost crippled them as they are having to continue paying rent to the4 property owners to continue their business. It will be a great challenge for those who have to recover the loss incurred, the supervisor said.
President of Hostel Owners Association of Bangladesh Asadujjaman said they are trying to return to business, but it will not be possible for many hostels to do so.
He said there are more than a thousand hostels around the city. But he expects half of these hostels to shut down. Many have already closed as they were really in crisis due to COVID -19.
He also sought support from the government to reopen their hostel. Otherwise it will worsen the accomodation problem of the single women after opening the educational institutions.
The Department of Women Affairs (DWA) informed that there are altogether three government hostels for working women in Dhaka. These are at Nilkhet, Mirpur and Khilgaon, providing only 893 places - far below the required number, that runs into the tens of thousands.
It said that the construction works for vertical extension of two hostels in Mirpur and Khilgaon are underway. It also said that there is a plan to establish another 10-storey building in the premises of Nilkhet Kormojibi Mohila Hostel.
According to Bangladesh Quarterly Labour Force Survey 2015-2016 of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), some 4.43 million women are working in the country’s urban areas including the capital city of Dhaka.