Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a glaring example of how a project which is supposed to be completed in four years, is not completed even in 10 years, can result in wasting the state money and people’s sufferings. BRT is being implemented from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Joydevpur in Gazipur on a route of 20.50 km. Special buses are supposed to ply on the flyover in some places and on existing roads in other parts.
This project, which was adopted in 2012, was supposed to be launched in 2016. It was said about the objective of the project that 20,000 passengers will be able to travel per hour if BRT project is launched. Buses will not be stuck in traffic, signal or any other obstacle. As of August, 81.65 per cent progress has been made on the project. The cost of the project has increased by 109 per cent, which is Tk 22.25 billion.
Why is this delay? Why is this waste of money? Some of the big development projects undertaken during the Awami League government have been implemented already, some are underway. Worryingly, most of these were not completed on time. And the cost of the projects also soared along with time.
Since the beginning of the construction of the BRT project, people have been suffering from traffic jams due to mismanagement. Knee-deep water accumulates in places from the airport to Gazipur whenever it rains. Traffic on the road is slow due to potholes and construction work. Sometimes it takes five to seven hours to cross the road that should take one hour at best. The situation is so grave that sometimes the police have to issue public notices to prevent vehicles from plying on that road. After cyclone Sitrang, the public suffering has reached an unbearable level in the last few days.
The road, transport and bridges minister has also termed this project as a thorn in the neck. He did not say anything about who created this situation. Despite various irregularities and financial wastage in the project, no legal action was taken against anyone. According to Prothom Alo, six people lost their lives in an accident during the construction work failing to ensure safety in the project area.
Five members of the same family died after being hit by a girder on the airport road on 15 August. The project's lender, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has informed the government that work cannot resume without fully ensuring safety. Since then heavy work has stopped. Light work is in progress. We are sceptic whether it can be launched by next March or not.
The concerned persons evaded their responsibility by putting the blame on the contractor company for the five people who died due to the collapse of the girder in Uttara. Again, although the contractor was held responsible, no action was taken against them. As the project approaches final stage, the project officials say that the capacity of the crane brought for the project is low. The accident could have been avoided if the responsible persons had been alerted earlier.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) civil engineering department professor and transportation expert Hadiuzzaman told Prothom Alo that it is unusual to take such a long time to implement BRT project in the era of modern technology and implementation of big projects. But no action was taken against those who are responsible for the unusual act. There should be an impartial investigation into the whole matter.