Workers injured during BRT construction
The recent accident during the construction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line-3, which injured six workers, seem to be because of the rush to finish an already delayed project. A report in this daily on March 15, 2021 points out that though the government project was initially set to be completed within December 2016, as of February 2021, only 52 percent of the work has been carried out. The project has already gone through four revisions of the original plan, with the latest deadline of the handover of the project—June 2022—coming up soon.
The report mentions an engineer connected with the project describing the lifting of the viaducts of the BRT line during daytime, which is prohibited by existing laws. Did trying to hasten the work, and working day and night, cause the accident? Hours before it happened, an under-construction pier cap of the project in Uttara also collapsed. This should have been taken as a warning sign to suspend the work to investigate the cause, but instead, the work continued. As the project in discussion is already five years behind the original schedule, it is possible that pressure from the respective authorities to finish up the project quickly played a role behind these irresponsible actions of the Chinese company in charge of the day-to-day operations of the project.
Three government agencies, namely the Roads and Highways Department (RHD), Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) and Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), are involved in implementing the BRT-3 line. They must provide explanations as to why the project has been extended to such a great extent and also, why no measures were taken to ensure the safety of the workers. The seven-member investigation committee that has been set up to conduct a probe must act fast to find out the actual reasons behind the accident, so that preventive steps can be taken. Most importantly, if the probe committee comes up with a list of any guilty personnel, corporation or government agency, they must be held accountable for negligence.
We know that unavoidable circumstances can cause delays to the implementation period of a project. This is why it is crucial to devise a realistic timeframe (taking into account all the logistical bottlenecks that must be removed) while ensuring the safety of workers. Workers should not be forced to work night and day to make up for delays, and rules that prohibit daytime construction work must be enforced and abided by. The time has come for the government to ensure that all its development work continues in a systematic, timely manner, without mismanagement or negligence that may endanger the lives of workers or the public in general.