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Endless work plagues Dhaka residents.  Who is to blame?

Endless work plagues Dhaka residents. Who is to blame?

Endless work plagues Dhaka residents.  Who is to blame?

Hanifa Begum, a resident of West Kafrul in Shewrapara, Dhaka, uses Taltala Road regularly. For over seven months, she has seen many roads in the area left unrepaired after being dug up.

This made a large part of the road inaccessible to vehicles. During rains, water fills the dug portions, turning them into mud. In dry weather, dust affects the area, causing inconvenience to the residents.

Hanifa Begum told The Business Standard, “Due to Wasa (Water Supply and Sewerage Authority) works, it is impossible to use this section during rains. Muddy water collects in the dug-out area, spoiling the clothes. Two days ago, a rickshaw overturned after falling into this ditch.”

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Noman Mahmud, a motorcyclist who uses Asad Avenue, said: “They dig up the roads and leave them like that for months. This causes traffic jams and accidents. The road has been like this for over three months and nobody seems to care .”

Jamal Hossain, a businessman from Old Dhaka, told TBS: “We are already frustrated with the traffic congestion in Old Dhaka and the unfinished road repairs are making it worse. Bangshal Road has been in disrepair for several months. We had to use bricks and sandbags to level it ourselves.

The situation is not limited to Sheorapara, Mohammadpur or Old Dhaka. Similar scenes can be found in at least 50 areas of the capital.

A TBS reporter who recently visited several areas including Farmgate, Tejkunipara, Pallabi, Agargaon, Shewrapara, Badda, Moghbazar, Madhubagh, Paikpara, Mohammadpur, Uttara, Malibagh, Khilgaon, Rayerbazar, Green Road, Dhaka University, Nilkhet, Old Dhaka , Lalba , Bashabo, Shyampur and Jatrabari, witnessed the deplorable condition of roads left unpaved by Dhaka Wasa.

Locals expressed their frustration, saying that Dhaka Wasa digs the roads, fills them with bricks and stones after a month or more and then leaves them untouched for over six months without completing the repairs. They pointed out that road repair and carpeting are the responsibilities of city corporations.

Dhaka Wasa claims that its responsibility ceases after filling the excavated portions with bricks and stones and handing over the site for actual road repair to the city corporations. Its officials say they have accomplished their task and it is now up to the corporations to take over.

The two city corporations, Dhaka North and Dhaka South, have a different perspective. They explain that they cannot start road repairs immediately after Wasa finishes its work. They cite WASA’s practice of taking time for testing and inspection before handing over the site, which delays the repair process.

In addition, they cite delays in appointing contractors for certain projects, further impeding progress.

Dhaka City Road Digging Rules 2019 discourage road digging during the rainy months of June, July, August, September and October. The policy provides for fines for failure to complete work within the specified time limits and prohibits excavation during the day. However, these rules are not effectively enforced.

Similarly, the requirement that agencies deposit 50% of the extra charges for excavating roads during the monsoon season and double the deposit charge if debris is not removed within 24 hours is often ignored.

The policy also states that the excavation agency must display the start and end dates at the site using boards. The work cannot be left unfinished for months under the pretext of digging the road.

Excavations at night should be completed with modern equipment and the road should be reopened to traffic by morning. The road must be restored to its original condition, smooth and suitable for use, so that there are no signs of excavation.

However, these provisions are not respected in reality. Even where repairs have been made, uneven surfaces can still be seen.

Dhaka South Zone 1 Executive Engineer (Civil) Saiful Islam Joy told TBS, “When Wasa applies for permission to excavate roads, it is given a maximum of 15 days per segment.

“However, Wasa often does not finish within this time frame, delaying the handover to the city corporation. Additionally, delays in the bidding process can further hamper repairs.”

He mentioned that road excavation work is currently going on at Dhaka University under his jurisdiction and carpeting will be done once the work is completed.

Dhaka North Zone-5 Executive Engineer (Civil) Nurul Alam told TBS, “Usually it takes five to six months to repair excavated roads as Wasa does not meet the deadline.

“Wasa has been excavating the Asad Gate area for two to four months. Now it is finished and they are checking the water pressure. We cannot complete the carpeting without their permission.”

He added: “Often after we finish carpeting, Wasa digs the roads again. This drains our budget, causing new problems.”

According to three engineers from the two Dhaka city corporations, there is a shortage of contractors capable of handling the extensive road excavation and repair work being carried out by Wasa and other agencies in the city corporation areas.

Delays in these projects are attributed to factors such as Wasa’s negligence, bidding challenges, contractor selection issues and complaints from councillors.

The city corporation engineers also mentioned that Wasa has worsened the situation by excavating more roads than authorized, which increases public nuisance. In addition, many roads remain neglected until further road development projects, leading to further delays in repairs.

Dhaka Wasa Deputy General Manager Operations and Management Engr. AKM Shahid Uddin, told TBS, “We are completing our work and handing over the site. It is the city corporations that often fail to complete the repairs. Why should we be responsible for paving after brick filling. and rubble?”

He added: “Our excavation is limited to a width of one foot and a depth of 4-5 feet, which should not cause significant disruption. However, when the city corporations leave the construction site unattended for months, the size of the potholes on the roads. grows, causing more inconvenience.”