RHD takes measures for climate-resilient roads
The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) is preparing a guideline for building roads and bridges that would be resilient to climate events.
The department has taken the initiative under a Tk 3.85-crore project titled "Study on the effect of climate change and resilient design for highways of the coastal region," RHD officials said.
RHD's consultant Centre for Environment and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) has already carried out a pilot survey in Cox's Bazar.
On the basis of the survey, CEGIS would give recommendations considering all relevant issues of climate change, including highest flood level, project director Md A Awal Molla said.
"Then, we [RHD] will give our opinions and the guidelines will be finalised. Later, these guidelines would be followed while designing roads and bridges [of RHD]," he told The Daily Star on Tuesday.
The development comes at a time when the country is witnessing prolonged and frequent flooding, and climate change is blamed for it.
A total of 460 kilometres of roads under RHD network were damaged by flood this year; RHD sought Tk 291 crore for repairing those.
On the other hand, a total 1,004 km of roads and highways had been damaged by floods last year and RHD had sought Tk 480.57 crore to properly repair those.
Experts blame poor planning ahead of road construction and ignoring impacts of climate change as the main reasons for floods causing so much damage to roads and resulting in high repair costs.
This was the first time RHD took a project for studying the effect of climate change and resilient designs for highway, said Awal Molla.
The project was supposed to be implemented in between July 2019 and September 2020 at a cost of Tk 4.37 crore. But they had to revise it due to Covid-19 situation; the project cost stamds at Tk 3.85 crore and deadline is March 2021, he said.
On a pilot basis, CEGIS has conducted survey in Cox's Bazar, which is vulnerable for landslide and salinity -- two outcomes of climate change, said another official of RHD's Social and Environmental Circle.
"They have conducted the survey considering the existing conditions but the guideline would be formulated considering ideal conditions," the official said.
Awal Molla said they are also considering paying contractors for taking measures to prevent pollution while implementing projects.
CEGIS will also suggest how contractors can be paid for this work and in future this would be incorporated in RHD's rate schedule, he said.
He said they will also carry out similar studies across the country and CEGIS will prepare development project profile (DPP) for it.
Bangladesh is seventh among the 10 countries worst hit by extreme weather events, according to Global Climate Risk Index 2020 that analysed data from 1999 to 2018.
Under the RHD, there are 22,096 km of national and regional highways and district roads, of which, 3,906km are national highways. Besides, it has 4,404 bridges, 14,814 culverts and 39 ferry terminals under its network, according to its 2018-19 annual report.