Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday expressed discontent over the quality of roads as some of them get damaged even after a short spell of rain within two or three months of construction.
“What is the point of constructing a road if the newer ones get damaged after a short spell of rain…There are questions about the quality of roads and quality must be ensured,” Quader said.
He came up with the remarks while speaking at a view-exchange meeting with the officials of Roads and Highways Department (RHD) at its head office in capital's Tejgaon.
Recognising that “overweight” of vehicles is a problem, Quader asked, “But still, why the roads would get damaged so quickly? The construction processes are definitely faulty then.”
Quader, also the general secretary of ruling Awami League, pointed an incident of Begumganj in Noakhali where poor construction materials were used in road construction.
“If such an irregularity can take place in my own district, what is the guarantee that it won't happen everywhere else?” Quader asked.
“My first and prime directive to you today is -- ensure the quality road construction so that they don't get damaged within a couple of months,” Quader said.
The minister also urged RHD officials to make sure that there is no corruption or irregularities in constructing roads and said it would be “painful” if such news surface in the media.
“I don't take any percentage…I am not involved with any corruption. So why would I take responsibility of others' corruption,” he said, adding that the whole department should not shoulder the blame of corruption for some corrupt officials.
He said the work of upgrading Dhaka-Chattogram Highway to four lanes was not good, resulting crack on the road within a year.
Although the work of Dhaka-Bhanga Highway was relatively costly, but of a better quality, he said adding, “Ensure the quality of the road even if it requires more money.”
At a point of this conversation, when an official spoke about the delay with getting foreign fund for an ongoing project, Quader said, “We will not require foreign fund anymore. If we can build Padma Bridge on our own, then why will we require foreign fund.”
Ebne Alam Hasan, chief engineer of RHD, said his office was facing difficulties with a huge number of projects due to manpower shortage.
“We are fighting with the inadequate manpower,” he said, adding that they sent a proposal for additional manpower which was still pending with the public administration Ministry.
Obaidul Quader said although the number of roads in poor condition has decreased, problems still lie in some district highways.
He directed officials to make those roads useable before the upcoming rainy season.
Quader said construction of the three new bridges on Dhaka-Chattogram Highway would be completed before Eid-ul Fitr.
Besides, two railway overpasses and four underpasses on Joydebpur-Chandra-Tangail-Elenga Highway will be opened for public before Eid.
So, he said, holidaymakers would have relatively smooth journeys this year.
The minister also asked officials to speed up the works of several projects, including the upgrading of Dhaka-Sylhet Highway and Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Highway to four lanes and widening of country's first marine drive.
Quader also asked officials to keep the existing road useable where development works are going on. He also asked them to enhance drive to reclaim RHD lands from illegal occupation.
ROADS AND HIGHWAYS
There are some 21,302km highways under the department. It includes 3,812km national highways, 4,246km regional highways and 13,242km district highways, according to the RHD's 2017-18 annual report.
Besides, RHD has 4,404 bridges, 14,814 culverts and 41 ferry terminals under its jurisdiction, the report said.
In 2017-18 fiscal year, total Tk 2334.39 crore was allocated for repair and maintenance of the roads and bridges. Moreover, RDH spent 14,128.74 crore in 140 development projects in last fiscal year, the report said.
According to the latest report of the HDM (Highway Development and Management), in 2017, more than 26 percent roads were in poor to very bad condition.
RHD conducted the survey over 17976.30km roads from November 2017 to January 2018. Another survey is currently underway.