RHD helps officials stay off project sites
Despite repeated government directives on project officials to stay at project sites, road authorities continue to allow its officials to carry out their works from the RHD headquarters in the capital.
Roads and Highways Department (RHD) allocated office space for at least six projects located outside Dhakaat its newly-constructed headquarters in the capital's Tejgaon area, according to an official order in September last year.
The six projects in question are being implemented in Pirojpur, Brahmanbaria, Rangpur, Tangail, Narayanganj, and Gazipur.
However, the office order that detailed space allocation of the building for different RHD wings and projects mentioned that spaces were allocated for its different wings and "Dhaka-based projects".
The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the order.
While offices have been allocated for projects outside the capital, officials of at least two wings of RHD -- planning and maintenance and bridge maintenance -- complained that they did not get adequate spaces at the new building that is hampering their works.
The government constructed the 12-storey building with the funding of the Asian Development Bank after RHD has to leave its previous headquarters near the Supreme Court, following a court ruling in 2012.
Due to lack of space in the temporary headquarters at Tejgaon and with the new building under construction, offices of RHD's different wings were housed scattered at different parts of the capital.
As the construction works of the new building were almost done, the then chief engineer of RHD issued an official order on September 2 last year, allocating space for different wings and project offices.
The shifting of project offices started recently.
Of the six projects located outside Dhaka, four were accommodated at Level-2 of the building. They are-3rd Shitalakhya Bridge Construction Project (Narayanganj); 8th Bangladesh China Friendship Bridge Project (Pirojpur); Ashuganj River Port-Sarail-Darkhar- Akhaura Land Port Road Project (Brahmanbaria); Support to Joydebpur-Debgram-Bhulta-Madanpur Road under PPP Project (Gazipur, Narayanganj).
Offices of two technical projects were allocated at the same floor and kept some space vacant for setting up offices of future projects, according to an official order.
The entire Level-10 of the building was allocated to two technical projects -- SASEC (South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation) -1 and SASEC-2. Under the projects, roads from the Joydebpur of Gazipur to Rangpur are being widened into four lanes with service lanes on both sides.
WHAT MINISTER AND MINISTRY SAID?
Amid growing allegations that many projects and field-level officials of RHD are not attending field offices regularly, Road Transport and Highway Division on September 10 last year issued a directive saying that all project and field level officials must attend their respective offices regularly.
The division issued the directives hours after Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader had expressed serious discontent over the issue at a meeting with top officials of RHD and SASEC-1 and -2 projects.
"It has been noticed recently that officials involved in different projects and field-level workers do not remain present at the office regularly. For this reason, faults have been found in the works for constructing quality roads and in their maintenance of ongoing projects," reads the order.
The division had also issued similar directives on April 5, 2018, and February 2, 2019.
Obaidul Quader, on September 13 last year, also raised serious questions about the necessity of a huge number of project offices in the capital. He also asked the officials concerned to inquire about the necessity of permanent buildings for projects while preparing those.
"I am observing that project offices are being built across the city. Wherever I go, I find project and RDH's offices. Are all these offices necessary?" the minister questioned.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Planning Minister Abdul Mannan also on several occasions gave directives so that project officials stay at project sites.
An RHD engineer said although the government is giving repeated directives on project officials to stay at project sites, the authority is promoting project offices in the capital.
"This goes against the spirit of the government's policy," he told The Daily Star, wishing not to be named.
He also said that it was also creating a problem for the other wings of RHD to work properly due to inadequate office spaces.
Contacted, Chief Engineer Abdus Sabur said a small set of SASEC-1 project and the office of SASEC-2's Project Director will operate in the building as the facility was constructed under this project.
"But, the allocation for offices of other projects, which are being implemented outside Dhaka would be cancelled," he told The Daily Star on January 28.
However, offices of the technical projects will remain, he added.