Within a year of completion, overloaded lorries and high number of vehicles plying have created ruts on the expanded Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
Twice as many vehicles than the projected number are using the highway, considered the lifeline of the country's economy, according to a government evaluation report.
The government is now considering an expensive project to repair the highway.
The Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) in the report observed that every day about 32,000 vehicles use the highway. During the launch of the project back in 2006, the authorities estimated 16,485 vehicles would use it daily.
To deal with the pressure of vehicles and minimise people's sufferings, the highway was opened in sections since 2013 before its formal completion in June, 2017.
The Roads and Highways Division (RHD) went for the 190km road project between Cumilla's Daudkandi and Chattogram City Gate but the project was amended thrice jacking up the cost to Tk 3,439 crore from Tk 2,168 crore.
The IMED report prepared last month shows that the authorities are now repairing the ruts (long deep track made by repeated passage of wheels of vehicles) that have developed on the highway within a year of its launch. They are using their regular maintenance fund to finance the patch-up work.
Upon receiving the report, the RHD has proposed another Tk 900 crore project for maintenance of the highway, a planning ministry official said, wishing not to be named.
Two engineers from the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), assigned by the Anti-Corruption Commission, have examined different layers and materials of the highway in a laboratory and found the materials to be appropriate, the RHD told an IMED team.
However, it did acknowledge some “construction faults”, added the official.
The planning ministry has formed a committee to review RHD's arguments for the highway repair project and decide if the estimated cost is justified, the official said. “The committee has already inspected the highway and the project will be finalised on the basis of its report.”
The two-member IMED team had inspected the highway in April. It mentioned in its report that 10-12mm deep ruts had developed on the fast lanes of the highway. Small cracks and potholes have also appeared at several points, the report said.
During inspection, Load Control Stations, where lorries are weighed, were found non-functional at Meghna-Gumti bridge and at Sitakunda.
An official of a transport workers' body on condition of anonymity said non-articulated lorries usually carry between 22 and 30 tonnes on the highway. The articulated ones carry even heavier loads.
“It seems that the aim of implementing the project [expanding the highway to dual carriageway] has been achieved. However, lengthy toll collection process at the bridges still plagues the highway with traffic jam,” the report read.
The IMED committee recommended quick and regular maintenance work for the highway to tackle the ever-increasing traffic flow.
“Otherwise, this highway, crucial to keep the country's economy flowing, may turn unfit.”
The Daudkandi-Chattogram four-lane highway project was initiated in 2006 and was scheduled to be completed by June 2012.
The highway was upgraded from two lanes to four lanes for quicker and smoother transportation of goods and passengers. The report also observed that due to the delayed completion, it failed to earn due economic benefits.
The project saw a total of 12 project directors in 11 years.