Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and contractor of Padma Bridge Rail Link Project are apparently at loggerheads over the use of Dhaka-Mawa Expressway for transporting construction materials.
RHD officials say the contractor and sub-contractors are damaging the newly-built expressway and service roads by operating heavy-loaded trucks to transport materials for the project.
The department has already sought Tk 50 crore to the project authority as compensation for the damage, and vowed not to allow any truck to use the expressway and its service road to avoid further damage, RHD officials said.
On the other hand, the contractor -- China Railway Group Limited (CRGL) -- said the road authority began closing passage between the main road and the service road since June 11.
As the main road allowing heavy vehicles to pass through is completely closed, vehicles transporting materials cannot reach the construction site and the service road that can reach the construction site is not allowing heavy-load vehicles to pass through it, the contractor said though its PR organisation on Thursday.
"As a result, all vehicles transporting materials for PBRLP will not be able to enter the construction site, and the construction of the section of CH25-CH81, nearly 56km long, will be forced to face a complete shutdown," it said, adding that 36 local suppliers and subcontractors, and their employees are suffering enormously amid the pandemic.
In March, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the country's first-ever expressway from Dhaka to Faridpur's Bhanga upazila. The 55km four-lane highway, with service lanes on both sides, is the most expensive road kilometre-for-kilometre in the country.
On the other hand, the Ecnec in May 2016 approved the "Padma Bridge Rail Link Project" to connect the capital with Jashore with a 169km rail line over the under-construction Padma Bridge. The deadline of the Tk 39,246-crore project is June 2024.
WHAT RHD SAYS
Sabuj Uddin Khan, additional chief engineer (Dhaka zone) of RHD, said they have already damaged the expressway and its service roads to some extent, by operating heavy-loaded truck, without paying heed to RHD's opposition.
"We've already visited the site and closed the expressway and its service roads on the Bhanga side two days ago, and are closing the Mawa side gradually too. We can't allow our property to be damaged by carrying materials for another project," he told The Daily Star yesterday.
He however said they did not close the road from June 11 as alleged by CRGL. Sabuj said the project authority was supposed to build a service road to carry construction materials but did not do that.
Replying to another question, he said "We have already sought Tk 50 crore to the rail link project authority as compensation for the damage. We will seek more after doing further assessment."
Sabuj said they have held several meetings over the issue but the contractor and their sub-contractors are not keeping their promises.
WHAT PROJECT AUTHORITY SAYS
Contracted, Project Director of PBRLP Golam Fakhruddin Ahmed Chowdhury also admitted that some sub-contractors operated loaded trucks at night, ignoring authority's directives. "RHD is very unhappy with the issue," he told The Daily Star on Thursday.
He, however, said work is going on although RHD has given some restriction to use the expressway and service roads.
"We have held two or three meeting with them, the last of them on July 6, and a committee has been formed to resolve the issue," Fakruddin said.
He said the committee, after visiting the site, will give a decision within seven days and hoped to resolve the issue. "Because, the expressway is our asset and we have to go ahead with the project too," he added.
However, CRGL said although a coordination meeting was convened among relevant parties to resolve this issue, where the contractor of PBRLP agreed that they will assign a sufficient number of traffic management staff, provide road protection facilities, and carry out reparation if their trucks damage the road.
"Unfortunately, the N8 road [expressway] still remains closed to trucks carrying construction materials for PBRLP," it said, adding it is understood that the relevant parties have initiated dialogues on this issue several times, but no consensus has been reached as of yet.
"Hence, the PBRLP project is currently facing suspension and heavy financial loss," it added.