Poor quality of road construction is creating hindrance to ensuring road safety in Rajshahi region while substandard services by Bangladesh Road Transport Authority and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation are aggravating the situation.
The opinions were expressed at a public hearing in Rajshahi city yesterday with Road Transport and Highway Division Secretary Md Nazrul Islam in the chair. Top officials, contractors, commuters, drivers, activists and journalists participated in the hearing.
Abu Darda Khan, an official of Rajshahi Education Board, said due to poor quality, the newly-constructed roads are getting damaged within months of construction.
“Everything has an expiry date, but our roads don't have any,” he said. He demanded that the authorities concerned fix an expiry date for roads and hold contractors responsible when those get badly damaged beforehand.
Echoing him, Secretary Nazrul Islam said, “We are spending a crore of taka for constructing per kilometre of road but those are not even lasting three years.”
He asked executive engineers to bring responsible contractors to book. “We are installing 23 modern weight scales across the country to control overloading of vehicles.”
Sadek Ali, a contractor, alleged that the country has more than a hundred listed contractors, but only a handful are getting works repeatedly.
“Those contractors are not being able to complete the works and are employing others, mostly who are not contractors, resulting in poor quality of roads,” he said.
In reply, Nazrul Islam said Central Procurement Technical Unit monitors the tender process. “Bidders are selected considering their ability and experience.”
Contractor Mamunur Rashid said they often get the work order just before monsoon.
Truck owner Rabiul Islam said movement of unauthorised three-wheelers on highways creates problems. “Drivers of three-wheelers bribe police to overlook them,” he alleged.
Many alleged that people get harassed while availing services at BRTA offices. At times, they also have to pay bribe to get things done. The premises also remain crammed with brokers and middlemen.
Speakers also demanded that BRTC increase buses on regional routes and improve services.
The secretary said they were unable to increase buses due to influence of private bus owners. “I will discuss the issue with higher authorities.”
He urged people to alert them of any mismanagement or corruption and expressed regret that they could not stop plying of three-wheelers on highways.
He also directed BRTA and BRTC officials, present at the hearing, to look into the discussed problems.