• Mon. Nov 28th, 2022

22 out of 77 bridges have faults

Bykav

Oct 9, 2022

Bridges need repairing even before completion of construction

The IMED report stated that several of the 22 faulty bridges require repairing. In some bridges, iron rods were not put in line with the design in the railings while some railings were found brittle as adequate cement were not used.  Some of the bridges don’t have any approach roads.

A girder bridge is being constructed on Sutir Khal in Joydhorkhali-Rajaghat road in Mymensingh’s Gafargaon.  There is no road for even rickshaws on one side of this bridge. There is another road on Sutir Khal within 2.5 kilometers which was constructed under the same project. The IMED team on their field visit did not understand the rationale of two bridges within such a short distance.

Complications arose over the height of the bridge constructed in Nazirpur Char Kachhpia-Farajganj UP road in Lalmohan upazila of Bhola. The construction of the bridge was halted until the height was increased. The contract was also annulled due to the expiry of deadline with the contractor.

Lalmohan canal is important locally. Large vessels use this canal to ply on Dhaka-Lalmohan route every day. An assessment of the design of the bridge revealed that it was not prepared upon considering navigability, course and flow and use of the river and canal. A field inspection revealed that the bridge saw 80 per cent of physical progress. People are being deprived of the benefits of the project as the work of the bridge has been going on for a long time.

A 45-meter approach road on Bishwanath Bejidanga road in Gopalganj’s Kashiani has caved in. Same goes with Gajaria-Kuliarchar road in Kishoreganj’s Bhairab. The approach roads on Boroikhali-Al Amin Bazar bridge in Munshiganj’s Sreenagar and Tulshir Char union parishad- Ferry Ghat road bridge in Jamalpur’s sadar upazila have broken down.

Railings of Biania Bazar bridge in Gongibari’s Dighirpar and Boterkhal bridge in Sirajganj-Muhammadganj road in Sunamganj’s Chhatak have also broken down.

46 months’ work take 160 months

Although a total of 251 bridges were supposed to be constructed under the LBC project, 15 of the bridges were built under different projects of the LGED. Yet, the revised project proposal of the LBC shows these 15 bridges. Two bridges were dropped from the project. Construction of 18 bridges has been stalled due to adequate fund.  If these 18 bridges are not completed within next June, the project will have to be finished without these bridges.

The project started in February 2010 was supposed to be implemented in 46 months, that is in December 2013. But the new deadline of June 2023 takes the total implementation time to 160 months.

Sources familiar with the project said the progress of the project has been hampered due to delay in land acquisition, lack of allocations during Covid-19 period, cancellation of eight contracts and re-tendering, multiple project revisions and inclusion of new bridges under the project. The implementation period has been increased by 9 years and 6 months as a result of four revisions and two extensions of the project.

The IMED report blamed faulty work plan for repeated extension of the project implementation time. Progress was not made according to yearly plans from 2010 to 2021.

LGED’s engineer Kazi Golam Mostafa was director of the project when the IMED report was prepared. He is now working in LGED’s Noakhali office. Golam Mostafa did not respond to calls for comment on the matter.

He, however, told the IMED’s evaluation team that the progress was hampered as no feasibility study was conducted at the beginning and acquisition of land took time.

He claimed that LGED engineers regularly monitored the progress of the project.

Other anomalies

Tk 1.03 billion were allocated for the acquisition of 90 acres of land under the LBC project. In reality, 81.65 acres of land has been acquired as there is no need to acquire the remaining 8.34 acres. But the entire Tk 1.03 billion has been spent on land acquisition. The estimation made for land acquisition under the project was not accurate.

The IMED reviewed several tenders of the construction of main bridges and construction of connecting roads. A contract was awarded at a price 24.46 per cent higher than the official price in the tender. The contractor was supposed to complete this work in two and a half years, but he took 8 years and 3 months to complete the work.

In another tender, the contract was signed at a price 34.97 per cent higher than the official price. The project office said the contract was signed at a higher price as no other contractor submitted tenders.

The IMED team also found discrepancy in cost management and overall monitoring of the project. A total of 39 audit objections were found from the beginning of the project and 33 of these were solved.

Regular meetings of the Project Implementation Committee (PIC) and the Project Steering Committee (PSC) are necessary for ensuring the progress and accountability of projects. As per the circular of planning department there is a provision to hold PIC and PSC meetings once in every three months and once a year as per DPP. Thus, a total of 49 meetings are supposed to be held. In reality, only one PIC and eight PSC meetings were held during the project period.
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Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on different occasions gave some instructions on the construction of the bridges. These are: the bridges have to be best utilized by constructing connecting roads, use of quality construction materials has to be ensured, hydrological surveys have to be done before preparing the design to ensure navigability and flow, advance planning for land acquisition for projects and determining the height of the bridge keeping in mind that navigation is not hampered during monsoon.

These instructions were not followed in the LBC project which led to many hindrances. The IMED report stated that the problems which arose in the project could have been averted if these instructions were followed.

The IMED report collected data from 1,207 beneficiaries of the project. They said the bridges have facilitated the communication between upazilas and unions and the transport cost also decreased. 56 per cent of the respondents said approach roads of the bridges have caved in and 69 per cent of those whose land were acquired said they are yet to get the compensation.

The planning ministry report suggested LGED take necessary preparation and emphasise feasibility study. The shape and location of the bridges have to be more precise. Ensuring height and width of the bridge and following directives of the PM given in ECNEC meeting and ensuring quality of the work were also stressed.

Experts have been advocating the authorities stop taking projects without conducting proper feasibility studies.

Institute for Planning and Development’s executive director Adil Mohammad Khan told Prothom Alo that a guideline is required to stop repeated increase of project cost and time.

Those who were in charge of conducting feasibility study and monitoring of the bridges should be held accountable, he added.

kav

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