4,200km roads bad or very bad

The Daily Star  July 01, 2019

4,200km roads bad or very bad

RHD survey finds; over Tk 10,000 crore needed for their upkeep this fiscal year; gets only Tk 2,550cr

Around 25 percent roads under the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) across the country are in poor or very bad condition, and fixing those would require Tk 10,679 crore in the current fiscal year, an RHD survey has found.

But the government has allocated less than a quarter of the amount or Tk 2,550 crore for the repair and maintenance of all roads and bridges. This means, much of the broken roads will get worse for a lack of repair work due to fund shortages.

Roads with huge cracks and potholes that need immediate repair are treated as bad or very bad roads, said an RHD engineer.

But because such roads are left unrepaired for long for fund shortages, the RHD often faces a huge backlog of repair and maintenance work, said Rezaur Rahman Rajon, ex-ecutive engineer (HDM Operation Division) at the RHD.

The RHD has to priorities the maintenance work on the basis of traffic movement. As a result, roads that carry thinner traffic get less attention most of the time even though they need urgent repair, he added.

Prof Mizanur Rahman, director of Accident Research Institute at Buet, said poor road condition is related to road crashes.

Poor road often slow down traffic. So when drivers find good roads, they often gear up speed, causing accidents, he said.

Road accidents are a major cause of death in Bangladesh. Diffident road safety organisa-tions estimate 4,500-7,000 deaths in road accidents per year.

Asked why such a big volume of roads are in poor condition, Prof Mizanur said, “Mega projects often get importance while maintenance work don’t. This may be a reason for the situation.”

Ashis Kumar Dey, general secretary of National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways, said often repair works were not done properly as a result of fund misuse.

There are 21,576 kms of national and regional highways and district roads in the country. The RHD surveyed 17,452kms of that and found some 4,247kms (24.34 percent) of them are in poor or bad or very bad condition. The rest are in good or fair condition.

The survey was done between November 2018 and March this year and its report was re-leased on RHD’s website yesterday.

The previous survey in May last year found 4,731kms (26.32 percent) of roads and high-ways in poor or very bad condition.

Among the 10 zones of the RHD, highest 570kms of poor to very bad roads are in Chatto-gram zone. Cumilla comes second, with 530kms of such roads, according to the report.

Dhaka has 303kms of poor to very bad roads, the lowest. Sylhet zone has the second lowest volume of bad roads.

In the last fiscal year, the RHD got Tk 2,350 crore for maintenance of roads and bridges, up slightly from Tk 2,334.39 crore in the previous fiscal year.

This year, it needs Tk 314 crore for routine maintenance, Tk 3,638 crore for periodic maintenance, Tk 2,534 crore for partial reconstruction and Tk 4,193 crore for full recon-struction, according to the Maintenance and Rehabilitation Needs Repot.

Ongoing projects were considered under the survey.

The report gave five recommendations for proper maintenance work, including field visits and design verification by the authorities.

“Routine maintenance has to be done properly and should be the first budget priority,” it said, adding that small contracts (up to TK 30 million) should be avoided to ensure quality work.

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