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9 January, 2021 07:40:48 PM

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Road excavation: Where is the end of suffering?

Even after the excavation work is completed, the roads are not properly repaired, which makes the suffering more severe. Roads can be dug for the development of the city, but if it goes unplanned, it will cause serious problems and increase the suffering of the people
Majhar Mannan
Road excavation: Where is the end of suffering?

Dhaka city, home to millions of people, has year-round road digging, which is said to be one of the major causes of human suffering. Day by day this misery seems to be crossing the limit and taking horrible forms.

Despite many initiatives, the problem seems to be getting worse and worse and the problem has gotten so deep that it is now difficult to uproot. In many cases, road excavation without following the policy is more dangerous. Dhaka city is constantly growing and its population is rising fast, so various development activities and road works are being carried out to adapt to this changed situation.

Roads in Dhaka are excavated for laying electrical cables, sewerage line, water pipelines, gas pipelines, internet lines and other construction works. Dhaka WASA, City Corporation, DESCO, BTCL, RAJUK and other service providers excavate the roads of Dhaka city throughout the year. Work is also underway on the construction of flyovers, metro rail and subways. Experts claim that there is an acute lack of co-ordination among the agencies involved in road excavation which results in the excavation work not being completed on time. Even after the excavation work is completed, the roads are not properly repaired, which makes the suffering more severe. Roads can be dug for the development of the city, but if it goes unplanned, it will cause serious problems and increase the suffering of the people.

There seems to be no end to the suffering of the people for these unplanned and unprincipled road digging. If all the guidelines given by the Metropolitan Road Excavation Policy 2019 had been properly followed, it would have greatly reduced the suffering of the people. But without paying heed to these policies, the roads are being dug at their own whim, which leads to severe traffic jams and road accidents. Excavation work is underway on major roads in Dhaka and bricks, sand, cement, rods, stones, pipes, cables and other materials are stored on the roads which cause boundless misery. According to the newspaper report, about 30 percent of the roads in Dhaka are now damaged due to the unplanned excavation and development work of service agencies.

Development work that was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic has resumed and frequent excavation work is going on which is creating a lot of dust and sand. As a result, the air of Dhaka city is getting heavy and diseases are spreading. No one seems to have any responsibility for dust control. Dhaka north city Mayor Atiqul Islam says, those who will work for development as per the rules are responsible for dust control but they do not do it properly. Expert doctors say that the dust enters the nose and causes various complications in the human respiratory system. Asthma, shortness of breath, cough, tuberculosis and other complex diseases are caused by dust. Besides the two city corporations, Dhaka city is managed by 52 agencies of 19 ministries. There is an extreme lack of co-ordination in the activities of 52 organizations. There is no central co-ordination and no integrated plan. Far from co-ordination, in many cases there is intense division and opposition. 

When an organization engages in any development work, in most cases the non co-operation of other organizations can be noticed. As a result, the work is not completed on time and suffering of the people continues to increase. Experts say that the road is not repaired properly even after digging due to lack of co-ordination. Indiscriminate road digging is caused by incoherence. Dhaka north city Mayor says, frequent excavation of roads cannot be easily stopped due to project approval and funding at different times. Let's take a look at the guidelines for road excavation given in the policy. The policy states that no road can be excavated for five months from May to September and no road can be cut during the day. In case of emergency excavation, the excavating authority has to pay an additional 50 percent fee along with the original compensation. If the excavation is done without permission, a fine of five times of the original cost will have to be paid.

Excavation work can only be done late at night taking permission from the city corporation and this work has to be done with modern equipments. There will be one stop co-ordination cell to supervise the excavation work and the starting and ending date of the work must be informed on the site with signboard. No work can be left behind month after month in the name of road excavation and as much as will be excavated at night, the work will have to be finished and repaired at night. The roads must be repaired nicely after excavation and returned to its original shape before excavation.

The concerned organization will issue a warning notice to the residents of the area seven days in advance where the excavation will be carried out. Three days before the start of excavation in any area, it has to be announced through a newspaper and loudspeaker has to be done. City Corporation and excavating organization should provide the name, address and mobile number so that the citizens can give any suggestion or complaints. Adequate space should be kept for vehicular movement while excavating the road. If the work is not completed within stipulated time, there is a provision to forfeit the partial or full security of the concerned institution. According to the policy the whole part of a road cannot be excavated and water should be sprinkled regularly so that the dust does not cause suffering to the people. The excavation area should be surrounded with yellow or red ribbon and traffic should not be disrupted and no materials should be stored on the road. Provision has been made to impose penalties or punishment on the contractor for violating any condition of the excavation policy. Contractors do not want to follow the rules even though they have been fined in some cases for violating the policy. The policy says that if the road breaks down, it should be repaired in time and if there is any other problem, it should be solved.

The two Dhaka city corporations have asked the concerned service providers to submit their action plan to stop unplanned road digging but they have failed to do so at the right time. However, after a long period of suffering of the people a road is repaired, but after a while, the same picture starts again and as a result, the suffering does not end at all. Sometimes the whole road and sometimes the partial roads are closed for all these uncoordinated excavations. This results in heavy traffic on other roads and wastes heavy working hours. Due to these unplanned digging, water from drains and manholes often overflows into the streets and it spreads serious stench which is also very harmful to human health. The city dwellers have to move through bad smelling dirty water. Unplanned digging on the one hand and unwise car parking on the road on the other is like a death trap. In the name of pavement reform, bricks, sand and stones are piled up, making it difficult to walk on the pavement. It is mandatory to inform the city corporation before starting the road excavation work and the city corporation may demand accountability from the excavating company in accordance with the policy. According to the road excavation policy, the city corporation actually has to play the role of coordinator. According to the policy, there is a fixed time for digging and any road excavation in the capital has to be completed within a maximum of 28 days. But even this obligation of time is not properly followed.

As soon as the work of one organization is over, the work of another begins, so that the people never get relief from suffering. Drain constructions and repairing are done throughout the year to eliminate water logging and as a result, the water pipes burst and the roads become muddy and pollute the environment. Many times the road repair work is done cosmetically and in a few days it goes back to its previous state. If the road is excavated according to the Road Excavation Policy 2019, it will not be a problem for any one. But the digging work is going on without paying a less heed to this policy which has put the people in a miserable condition. City corporations say, the contractors employed by various organizations violate the policy. Experts have asked the city corporation to make more drastic steps to implement the policy. The most regrettable thing is that the signboards are not often notified to the organizations involved in the excavation work. No warning ribbons are affixed and bricks, stones, pipes, rods are scattered on the road.

If any laxity is shown in the implementation of the excavation policy, the people of Dhaka will have to face dire situations in the coming days. Now is the time to strictly implement the excavation policy 2019. The two city corporations in Dhaka need to be stricter in implementing this policy. One of the responsibilities of the city corporation is to coordinate with the road digging companies. Today, the city dwellers are waiting for the timely intervention of the city corporation.

The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola Dhaka Cantonment.
 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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