'Project undertaken to repair roads despite good condition'

Photo shows Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury flyover in the Gate No. 2 of Chattogram city on 13 September 2021.
Sowrov Das

The Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury flyover has developed no pothole since the Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) handed over the 5.4-km flyover to the Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) following the completion of its construction in December 2019.

Yet, the CCC wants to carry out carpet pitch on its roads again at a cost of Tk 150 million.

CDA executive engineer and the flyover project director Mahfuzur Rahman told Ptothom Alo no repair would be necessary on the road of the Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury flyover for the next 4-5 years if the carpet pitch is carried out now, and loads on the flyover would increase.

The CCC has also taken up a repairing project for the Buddhist temple road at a cost of Tk 10 million (1 crore) though the work of the half-kilometre road ended this January. People concerned said there is no necessity to repair the road.

The CCC recently undertook a mega project involving Tk 24.99 billion (2,499 crore) for repairing and infrastructural development of various roads including 37 roads with good conditions.

The mega project allocated Tk 2.27 billion (227 crore) for repairing these 37 roads though about Tk 1.87 billion (187 crore) was spent for the development of these roads in the last four years.

The planning commission approved the project with a set of conditions in June last. The project now awaits final approval at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).

CCC chief engineer Rafiqul Islam, howver, claimed no road where repairing is underway or has been completed recently was included in the new road renovation project.

When the name of certain road is brought to his notice, Rafiqul Islam told Prothom Alo though it is the same road but work would be carried out on the portion that is left unrepaired.

Besides, it takes 4-5 years to get approval of a project as well as its implementation. Meantime, many roads get dilapidated due to water logging, movement of heavy vehicles and digging by service agencies even after repairing. So, roads require repairing, he added.

Rafiqul Islam further said if the roads remain in a good condition, there is still the opportunity to exclude it during project revision.

People concerned said it is necessary to ensure that roads do not turn dilapidated due to digging or other reasons in 2 to 4 years after road repairing work ends. Otherwise, huge amount of money would be spent every year and people would not get the benefit.

According to Mahmood Omar Imam and Swapan Kumar Palit, professors of civil engineering at Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET), if a road is built in a planned way, it lasts 10 to 15 years.

They told Prothom Alo since quality materials are not used in construction and contractors are not monitored properly, repairing work is carried out horribly and roads turn dilapidated soon. To build road in such a way wastes public fund and initiative must be taken to stop it.

Repairing project for roads with good condition

Thirty six out of those 37 roads with good condition were repaired previously under the CCC’s two projects. The reaming one is Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury flyover, which is constructed by the CDA.

Implementation period of one of the two projects was 2017-2021 and it ended in June last. Eighty nine roads stretching 108.5 km were repaired at a cost of Tk 3.71 billon (371 crore) under the project titled “Development of different important road and bridge, collect modern equipment and street light of Chattogram City Corporation”.

Initiative has been taken to repair 18 of these roads stretching 31 km again under the new project with an allocation of Tk 930 million (93 crore). These are located in Patenga, Agrabad, Chaktai, Khatunganj, Halishahar, Teri Bazar and Lalkhan Bazar areas.

Funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), development of 18 roads is on under a project titled “City Governance Project”. But the CCC included these 18 roads to its Tk 24.99 billion new mega project and allocated 1.2 billion (102 crore) for repairing the roads.

These roads are located in Khulshi, Bakalia, Pathantuli, Halishahar, Mehedibagh, Chawkbazar, Panchlaish, Katalganj, Firingibazar and Nasirabad areas.

Visiting the area, carpet pitch was seen to carry out on a side of the portion of the city’s Mehedibagh road while the remaining part was full of potholes. Work was underway to repair this dilapidated road. Repairing work of another important and busiest Strand road has not been finished as yet. That is why question arose on the inclusion of roads for repairing in the new project.

Planning commission’s objection

The planning commission raised objection to Tk 24.99 billion new project of the CCC at a meeting of the project evaluation committee (PEC) on 16 June.

According to the meeting minutes, the Detail project proposal (DPP) did not include the details on the cost allocation of the infrastructure buildings and their conceptual designs under the project. Besides, locations of bridges, culverts and intersections, to be built under the project, were not mentioned.

The meeting observed more allocation was made for the procurement of machineries. The commission also objected to purchasing a pajero at a cost of Tk 14 million (1.40 crore) for the use of the project officials.

Besides, procurement of road roller, backhoe loader, pay loader and chain dozer was also proposed for the new project although the CCC already has these heavy machineries.

When asked Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) Chattogram unit secretary Akhter Kabir Chowdhury told Prothom Alo taking initiative to repair roads with good condition is meant for plundering. A project is to be taken considering the real situation and carrying out the feasibility study. The CCC project seems to be taken in a traditional way. It is crime to take up project like this and it levels with corruption. Everybody speaks for coordination but no one wants it at all, he added.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna