Delay in repair’ deliberate’

Battered Dhaka Roads
Delay in repair’ deliberate’
Slow action of DCCs aims at greater corruption
With repairing dug-up roads, the Dhaka city corporations allegedly make deliberate delays or resort to substandard patch ups to have expensive
repairs later on, opening the window for greater financial irregularities.
The infliction of uncalled for miseries on the city dwellers while they make delays and do dodgy repairs seem to come second on the priority list.
While people generally blame utility service providers, like Wasa and Titus gas, for digging up roads, it is actually the city corporations who are responsible for restoring the roads as soon as the utility service providers are done with it.
Any agency digging up a road pays the city corporation concerned for the repairs up front.
Experts say that the delays are deliberate so that the road condition worsens and the city corporations have to spend more on the repairs.
Prof Md Shamsul Hoque, who teaches civil engineering at Buet, said the delay is deliberate with a corrupt motive, as it allows widening small road cracks into gaping holes and entails sizeable repair expenditure.
The larger the expenditure the bigger the opportunity for financial misappropriation since maintenance work has no engineering drawing, he said.
Restoration of a road after letting gaping holes to develop is a contractor-oriented approach and is not an engineering practice, said Prof Shamsul Hoque, adding that the professional approach to deal with road damage is to arrest cracks before they turn into gaping holes.
Road maintenance and repair work should be done during winter as moisture is the greatest enemy of tar and triggers road cracks, he said.
Prof Alamgir Mojibul Hoque, who also teaches civil engineering at Buet, said the patchy way road potholes were repaired was not a proper method. As a result, the damages keep recurring in regular intervals.
The disintegrated portions of a road should be rebuilt vertically in a proper engineering method. But it is just patched up on the surface, only to break down in contact with water or corrosion due to vehicular movement.
This incurs loss of public resources and inflicts perennial public suffering.
A utility company dug up a number of roads in Uttara last year including Road-9 in Sector-4 but the city corporation concerned waited almost a year before starting repairs.
School-going children and locals suffered on the tattered and mud-covered roads, particularly during the monsoon.
Shahudul Haque, a Gulshan resident, said Gulshan-Tejgaon link road has been a chronic example of commuters’ suffering with potholes and rugged surface for more than a year and repeated road digging for several months.
“It has been a mess with utility agencies leaving the road dug-up for months, piling up sewage by the roadside and dismantling existing footpaths making passage a nightmare,” he said.
Small cracks on Tejgaon-Gulshan link road have also been left out for months letting those become large potholes at different spots. Traffic crawls on the road now and the ride is rough.
Ahsan Habib Khan, a resident of Banani Chairman Bari, said Dhaka North City Corporation left out some small cracks on the west end of Road-11 for around a year.
This allowed those small cracks turn into huge potholes. The stretch of road became impassable for vehicles over time, he said.
At the end of July and amid frequent rain, the city corporation woke up from its slumber to repair the potholes with asphalt, he said.
Prof Md Shamsul Hoque said bituminous patch-up during rain just masks a broken road because it slackens bitumen binding of stone chips, leading to faults and holes.
A road is supposed to have a 15-year life without the kind of deep pothole damages that people experience regularly.
Different utility agencies dig-up roads, fill up the trenches and pay for the repairs. But the city corporations leave them in muddy and tattered condition for months together in the name of compaction.
A road is built layer after layer of soil foundation, base of brick chips and sand and finally bituminous surface, said Shamsul Hoque. But dug-up portion of a road is repaired by directly filling up the trenches with sand, without using a trench compactor.
As a result, improperly compacted road are weak and break down soon.
Road potholes continue making repair expenditure a recurrent phenomenon.
A zone executive engineer of Dhaka South City Corporation, unwilling to be named, admitted that adequate ground compaction was not achieved in case of trench-filling leading to subsidence.
Brigadier General Md Ahsanul Huq, chief engineer of Dhaka North City Corporation, said, “Repair work is delayed because it takes time for it to come to the engineers’ notice and as a consequence the potholes keep getting bigger.”
Refuting the allegation that the engineers deliberately let the potholes widen, he said, “Wide potholes require more expenditures which reduce the chance of monetary misappropriation.”
As to why they do not prevent the potholes from developing, he said, “There would be no need for city corporation had the potholes been prevented beforehand.”
The communications minister while visiting road-digging and deplorable condition in Jatrabari in the capital on July 30 said negligence of the city corporations in timely repair results in rundown roads.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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