The budget speech spoke of a commitment to strengthen the country’s communication infrastructure. With the goal of becoming a developed country by 2041, it is natural that the budget has allocations for multipurpose bridges, elevated expressway, MRT, airport expansion and other such mega projects. The second Kanchpur bridge, second Meghna bridge and second Gumti bridge have also been inaugurated. Two kilomteres of Padma bridge are also visible now.
Despite all this flurry of development work, it is disconcerting to see the sad plight of the roads and highways. A survey report of the Roads and Highways Department states that over half of the country’s roads are in a dilapidated state and need fast repairs. This will required Tk 100 billion. However, the allocation for this purpose in the current fiscal is only Tk 25.50 billion.
The concerned government organisation itself states that 25 per cent of the roads are in a bad state. Only 50 per cent of the country’s 17,000 km of roads can be said to be in a good state. That clearly indicates that both repairs and maintenance are being neglected. This has created sufferings and risks in commute for the people and in the transportation of goods.
There had to be some sort of balance between the allocations for the mega projects and that for the maintenance of the existing roads. Communications and transport development must be seen in a holistic manner. The government surely aims for people to receive optimum benefit from the mega projects. If so, how can over 4,000 km of roads remain risky?
It is obvious that to avail MRT, bullet trains or modern aircraft, people will have to traverse those 17,000 km of roads. Traffic congestion has gripped the main roads and highways of the country. If these roads are not repaired, the situation will simply worsen. People’s sufferings will multiply.
The government must certainly change its strategy in allocating funds for communication infrastructure. And this has to be a long-term plan, not just for this year. It has to be in keeping and in coordination with the mega projects. If repairs and maintenance are continually overlooked, the mega projects will not yield the optimum benefits.
The government is presently implementing an amended strategic transport plan (2015-20135) for the capital and its surrounding areas. This will require adequate funds for repairs. The roads of the capital itself are filled with ruts and potholes. We hope the Roads and Highways’ survey is given due consideration and action is taken accordingly.
Over the last one decade, around 25,000 people were killed in road accidents. It was not only due to faulty vehicles and inefficient drivers. The bad state of the roads and also mismanagement was responsible for this predicament.
According to the roads and highways department, their previously survey said 4731 km of roads and highways are in a bad state. That means from November 2018 till March this year, less than 12 per cent of the roads have been repaired. That is a matter of serious concern.