Risky movement on dilapidated Jashore-Jhenaidah highway

Potholes and bumps have appeared due to the movement of heavy vehicles on the Jashore-Jhenaidah highwayProthom Alo

Potholes and bumps have appeared due to the movement of heavy vehicles on the Jashore-Jhenaidah highway. The road looks like waves from both sides. In some places, the uneven elevated portions of the road look like a road divider. Vehicles move along this road amid massive risks. Road accidents are frequent on this road.

The Jhenaidah portion of the Jashore-Jhenaidah highway has been dilapidated for the last four months. However, the situation has further worsened over the last 15 days as a large section of the road has become unusable after the bitumen used on the roads melted due to the severe heat wave.

This road falls under the Dhaka-Khulna highway. The Khulna-bound buses used to take this road before the opening of the Padma Bridge. The Khulna-bound buses now run through Bhanga in Faridpur, Gopalganj and Bagerhat and Jashore-bound buses run through Bhanga, Gopalganj and Narail.

There were several mounds created by displaced bitumen due to the pressure of heavy vehicles, along a 15 kilometre portion of the road stretching from Jhenaidah city to Kaliganj. The road is completely worn out in several places along the road including, Chutlia, Tentultala, Bishaykhali, Gariwala, Koyargachhi and Khoyertala.

As a result, the drivers are struggling to move along such a bumpy road. In particular, the drivers of the smaller vehicles are suffering the most. The smaller vehicles overturn very often after stumbling upon the ditches and mounds. And the road has become a death trap for the motorcycle riders.

According to locals, the Roads and Highways Department sometimes even out down the elevated portions. However, it returns to its previous state within just two to four days. The condition of the road is so bad now that the smaller vehicles cannot ply on this road any longer. These vehicles are using alternative roads.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, truck driver Abbas Uddin said, “The roads used to be like this when people used carts to move on muddy roads. Now we are experiencing the same concrete roads. We are struggling to move through this road.”

This correspondent found a certain portion of the road stretching from Bishaykhali Battala area to the tea stall of Abdur Rakib completely unfit for vehicular movement. No vehicles are running on this portion of the road for the last two weeks. While visiting the place in person, this correspondent saw a car stuck on the road and the owner standing beside it.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, owner of the car Alamgir Hossain said he didn’t know anything about the condition of the road. Otherwise, he would never take this road. He said he somehow managed to move the car aside. Now, he would have to take the car to the garage for repairs.

Meanwhile, road accidents on the road have become more frequent due to the worn out condition of the road. Locals say a banker named Rubel Hossain sustained serious injuries after falling into one of the ditches on the road. He is undergoing treatment at the moment. Rakib Hossain, a local trader, said at least 15-20 motorcycles fall victims to road accidents every day.

The locals are blaming the contracting agency for such a dilapidated situation on the road. They alleged that the current condition of the road is the result of using low quality bitumen. The construction of the road ended around a year ago. However, ditches appeared on the road within six months of its construction.

However, contractor Mizanur Rahman claimed to maintain all the standards during the construction of the road. He told Prothom Alo the work was done four years ago. He couldn’t provide any plausible reason behind such a worn-out condition of the road. It could be due to the extreme heat wave, he added.

The engineers refuted the logic of the contractor that the bitumen used on the road melted due to extreme heat. Speaking to Prothom Alo on condition of anonymity a local engineer of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) said, “It just cannot be the result of extreme heat alone. There might be some constructional faults. Probably the bitumen used for the construction was substandard.

He further said that usually 60 to 70 grade bitumen is used for road construction. And if somebody uses 80-90 grade bitumen, then road damage is inevitable. That road has been damaged completely, which is very uncommon.

Meanwhile, there is little chance to get rid of the hassles due to the damaged road. The road has been handed over to the respective authorities of the ‘Jhenaidah-Jeshore Road Six Lane Project’. So the district roads department cannot do anything about it.

When contacted, Jhenaidah roads and highways department executive engineer Mohammad Anwar Parvez told Prothom Alo, “The work on converting the highway to six lanes has started. So we have nothing to do right now.”

However, locals and people who use the road on a regular basis demand an immediate solution.

Amirul Islam, a resident of the Bishaykhali area said, “We are not getting much benefit from filling up the potholes or smoothing down the mounds. We need a permanent solution.”

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu