Beef up monitoring to improve construction standards: experts
Using quality materials under adequate supervision at development sites will ensure a higher standard of construction, experts said yesterday.
"The standard of finished projects depends on the use of quality materials and proper supervision during construction," said Md Shamsul Hoque, director of the Bureau of Research, Testing and Consultation.
Bangladesh is now self-sufficient when it comes to supplying world-class raw materials to the construction sector. However, a lack of supervision by the engineers or managers impacts the overall quality of construction, he added.
Hoque made the comments during a webinar styled "Standard material for safe construction" jointly organised by The Daily Star and BSRM.
M Firoze, adviser for marketing and product development at BSRM, said that the standard for construction work is not being maintained even though quality raw materials are readily available.
Standards are not being maintained even for the Padma Rail Link, one of the biggest ongoing development projects in the country, as the implementing agency placed an order for raw materials following standards of a neighbouring country, which is a violation of compliance, he said.
"They are not following the standards set by the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI)," he said.
The standard of construction depends on the raw materials used and so the BSTI should monitor compliance in this regard, Firoze added.
According to Mahfuz Anam, editor of The Daily Star, everyone is responsible in their own capacity to maintain a certain standard of construction at every level.
"We need sustainable construction plans for bridges, buildings and culverts that do not compromise with the country's standards," he said, emphasising the need for legal actions against the violation of regulations.
Besides, the BSTI's capability to monitor and ensure compliance during the construction of projects should be bolstered to maintain standards, Anam added.
M Shamim Z Bosunia, chairman and managing director of Abode of Consultants and former president of the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh, stressed the need for enhanced supervision at project sites to ensure the proper use of raw materials.
Like Anam, Bosunia said widening the BSTI's activities by strengthening the organisation could lead to better quality control.
Md Abu Sadeque, executive director of the Centre for Housing and Building Research, urged companies to follow the housing codes while carrying out construction work in rural areas as people often neglect such safety guidelines.
Sadeque also alleged that in many cases, developers lie about how long a finished project may last without having to be reconstructed.
Certain companies claim that their projects will last 100 years by manipulating their accounts to show the use of high-quality materials, he said.
Depending on a project's design, the construction work can be similar to the standards of the EU and the US, said F R Khan, managing director of Building Technology & Ideas (bti).
In most cases, developers do not follow a structured system, which leads to a dip in the overall construction quality.
"We cannot ignore the architectural design, electro-mechanical system for safety or the suitability and standard of construction work," Khan said, adding that maintenance is an important aspect of any project's sustainability.
SM Khorshed Alam, president of the Bangladesh Association of Construction Industry, said that around 65 to 70 per cent of a project's cost is spent on raw materials, which are now locally produced.
To ensure that standard materials are used, a new quality control lab should be set up at the field level as the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology is overloaded with this work, he added.
Md Tarek Uddin, a professor for civil and environmental engineering at the Islamic University of Technology, urged the country's developers to follow local standards.
He stressed the need for legal frameworks on maintaining the standards of construction work.
AFM Saiful Amin, a professor in the department of civil engineering at the BUET, said there is a lack of knowledge among the public on the standard of construction work in Bangladesh due to lax research.
According to Amin, Bangladesh follows US standards as there is no local building code for mega construction projects.
Tanjim Ferdous, the national consultant of the Unicef, moderated the webinar.