Holidaymakers' trip in a fix -The Asian Age

Several points of Dhaka-North Bengal highways have turned into death traps due to many reasons including undergoing construction works and development of innumerable potholes caused by heavy rains ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha.

It is being apprehended that homebound people will face immense  suffering during the Eid holiday journey.  Lack of timely repairing, extreme apathy, huge corruptions and mismanagement of the concerned authorities and contractors of the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) are blamed for creating such dilapidated condition of the highways. 

Meanwhile, many parts of the highways have become seriously vulnerable for vehicular movements. However, thousands of vehicles including buses and trucks are plying on the highways everyday taking risk of accidents. An employee of Bangabandhu Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge (BJMB) Toll Plaza seeking anonymity has told The Asian Age that BJMB is the main gateway to the northern region. Normally around 12,000 to 20,000 transports ply through the bridge daily. But during the Eid holidays, the number reaches 27,000.

Some 100kms of the highway out of 190kms from Dhaka to Bogra have got ramshackle condition due to creation of huge number of pits. Besides, the construction work of Dhaka-Tangail four lane project and repairing works at many points of the highway have added more woes to the commuters.  A bus driver said, to reach Bogra from  Dhaka, it took at best six hours before the opening of BJMB. But now, it takes nine hours centering severe traffic congestion. The situation will be more worsened during the Eid-ul-Azha.

The distance from Dhaka to Elenga is 94kms. The work of four-lane project is underway on this highway from Chandra intersection to Elenga. The work is likely to be completed by 2018. The distance between Dhaka and BJMB via Tangail is 120kms. Of them, 65kms from Gorai to BJMB are in Tangail district, while the rest is located in Gazipur and Dhaka districts. The major portion of the highway including of Kalihati, Elenga, Delduar Natiyapara and Jamurki has become seriously hazardous for developing potholes.

Same dilapidated condition has become 40kms portion of Dhaka-Bogra highway, especially from western side of BJMB to Chandaikona.  Officials of Sirajganj RHD said, repairing works are going on at different points of the highway from Hatikumrul to Chandaikona. At present, carpeting work, undergoing in Hatikumrul, Karmoza, Sahebganj, Dadpur, Ghurka Beltola and Bhuiangati areas, creates severe traffic jam.

The distance from Hatikumrul to Bogra is 65kms. Of them, the condition of 25kms is highly dilapidated. Though, the government allocated Tk 15 crore for repairing the damaged portions of the highway, the low quality eye-wash works are going on with some brick pieces. Consequently, people are not getting benefit from it.

Similarly, dilapidated condition is prevailing at different portions of Dhaka-Natore-Rajshahi Highway. The distance from Hatikumrul to Natore is about 68kms. Of them, the condition of around 43kms is seriously hazardous. Tk 8 crore has already been allocated for repairing of 10kms, but to no effect.

There is complaint that the dilapidated conditions have been created in different parts of the highways due to extreme apathy, irregularities and corruptions of the concerned executive engineers respectively--Tangail RHD Executive Engineer KM Noor-e-Alam, Sirajganj RHD Executive Engineer Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal and Natore RHD Executive Engineer Md Ashraful Islam.

Those engineers have allegedly misappropriated a huge amount of money in the name of different projects' implementation and maintenance works.  Earlier, Noor-e-Alam was suspended for his massive corruptions and irregularities, while he was Executive Engineer in Sirajganj.

Ashraful Islam amassed a huge amount of money by taking recourse to corruptions and irregularities during implementation of Sayedabad-Enayetpur Bylane Project in Sirajganj, while he was SDE there.   The authorities have recently withdrawn Sirajganj RHD Executive Engineer Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal and attached him to the head office over the allegations of misappropriation and sharing from Tk 6 crore sanctioned for repairing the potholes at Hatikumrul intersection, Nalka Bridge, Sirajganj-Bogra highway, Natore-Bonpara highway and Pabna-Nagorbari highway before the last Eid-ul-Fitr. The authorities also issued 'show cause' notices to Additional Chief Engineer of Rajshahi division Abu Rawshan Ali and Superintendent Engineer of Pabna Habibur Rahman for negligence of duty.