Dhaka,  Sunday
14 April 2024

Corruption allegations hit Mujibnagar Highway project


Published: 08:29, 2 March 2024

Corruption allegations hit Mujibnagar Highway project

Photo : Messenger

Concerns have arisen regarding widespread irregularities and the use of substandard materials in the pothole repair, profile correction, premix bituminous carpeting, DBST, and soil work for the periodic maintenance project (PMP major), allocated a budget of Tk 8.70 crore.

These allegations also implicate officials from the Roads Department. The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) of Meherpur issued a work order on September 7, 2023, inviting tenders for the periodic maintenance work, with a budget of Tk 8.70 crore. The work order stipulated a completion deadline of April 5 this year.

The contract was awarded to Orient Trading and Builders Limited, a Dhaka-based company, following a successful tender submission. Following complaints from locals and an inspection of the site last Monday (26th February), several irregularities have been discovered in the ongoing maintenance work. Specifically, concerns have been raised regarding the completion of DBST work from Mujibnagar Complex Gate to Kedarganj.

It has been noted that the amount of bitumen tack coat used in the DBST work is inadequate, and the stones have not been properly precoated. Despite an estimated budget of 4.46 crore taka allocated for this task, deficiencies in the quality of work have been observed. Additionally, there have been reductions in the level of hard solder leveling, leading to varying levels of road surface. Furthermore, approximately 150 trees line both sides of the 10 km road widening project, posing challenges for proper hard solder leveling. This has led to increased risks of accidents, as well as concerns over the use of appropriate materials.

Although 75.54 lakh taka was earmarked for soil in solder, no soil has been utilised in the project. Similarly, while 6.08 lakh takas were allocated for pothole repair, no visible repair work has been carried out. An audit of the Meherpur-Mujibnagar highway project has revealed significant discrepancies in fund allocation and concerns over the quality of work being undertaken. Despite budget allocations, several key components of the project remain incomplete or inadequately addressed. For instance, a budget of 1 crore 12 lakh taka was allocated for the carpeting and profile correction of the Monakhali Bridge, but no visible progress has been made in this regard. Similarly, funds designated for the installation of traffic signs, signposts, guideposts, and kilometer posts appear to have been misallocated, as existing signage already covers these areas.

Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding the quality of construction materials used in the project. Local residents, including Mustafiz and Shakil, have reported instances of low-quality materials leading to premature deterioration of the road surface. The failure to adhere to quality standards not only compromises road safety but also represents a significant waste of government funds. Shahriar Alamgir Anik, the project manager of Orient Trading and Builders Limited, has assured that any issues arising after the completion of the work will be promptly rectified.

He also acknowledged making efforts to prevent the publication of news regarding the project’s challenges. Sub-Assistant Engineer Sabbir Ahmed stated that the first kilometer of DBST work is being undertaken as a trial to assess adherence to the project schedule. If the quality of work does not meet the required standards, it will be redone. However, concerns have been raised about the absence of the responsible officer from the work site for extended periods, with the reporter unable to locate them during two days of on-site investigation.