Safety of school children as well as locals has come to the fore as allegations surfaced about irregularities and use of substandard materials in construction of a boundary wall of a government primary school in Rajnagar upazila.
Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) in the upazila is funding Tk 14 lakh to build the wall for Babur Bazar Government Primary School in Panchgaon union. Following completion of necessary tender process, LGED awarded the work order to contractor firm of one Akbar Ali.
However, the work is being carried out by a subcontractor firm belonging to Moinul Islam Khan, who is also the president of Bangladesh Jubo League's Rajnagar upazila unit.
Nanu Mia, a resident of the area, said locals expressed their concern over the use of rebar (deformed iron bar) rings maintaining 15 to 16 inches distance in the metal skeletons of lintels and columns being made for the wall.
Not only the rings are being placed too far from each other, they are using low-grade brick chips and sand to build the concrete lintels and columns for the wall.
Besides, a disproportionately high amount of sand is being used in the construction, he also alleged.
Several others from the same area, including Sadiq Mia and Shahid Mia, who are also experienced masons, said they never saw rebar rings in lintels or columns of a structure being placed so far away from each other.
Sadiq and Shahid both said they worked at many government construction projects where rings in lintels or columns were used at a maximum distance of 6 inches.
Considering the few number of rings being used in a particular length of a lintel or column in the boundary wall, children and others in the area will be at risk, they also said.
Requesting anonymity, a few of the workers at the construction site said they were only following directions of the site engineer who supervises the work regularly.
The engineer would ask them to rectify the problem if the workers made any mistake while preparing the metal skeletons for the lintels or columns, they also said.
Asked about the quality of the materials being used, they admitted that based on their previous work experience, they were certain that the brick chips being used in the construction are of poor quality.
Contacted, Moinul Islam Khan, the proprietor of the sub-contractor firm, said, "The locals don't understand anything about work and drawing. No work is being done deviating its [structural] drawing."
Animesh Deb, the acting head teacher of Babu Bazar Government Primary School, said the president of the school management committee had a discussion with him over the alleged irregularities and they were both concerned about the safety of their students, teachers and staff members.
After the allegation of the irregularities was conveyed, Rajnagar Upazila LGED Executive Engineer Mohiuddin said he would take necessary action once any irregularities are found in investigation.