VEHICLES moving through road full of potholes, mostly puddled during shower, has typical of the capital Dhaka. City officials, as New Age reported on Monday, admitted that two-thirds of Dhaka’s about 2,340km road network are more or less damaged because of rain and other reasons. Numerous ditches, and even craters about three feet deep, are seen on the road stretch from Malibagh to Rampura. Similar is the condition with stretches of Pragati Sarani, Gabtali, Sadarghat, Basabo, Nandipara, Mirpur, Jatrabari, Manikganar, Mazar Road, Khilgaon, Goran, Begum Rokeya Sarani, Dhanmondi, Rayerbazar, Mohammadpur, Badda and Old Town. Accident happens frequently, especially when the roads are submerged in rain water, because of the road condition. Such a situation also slows vehicle movement, triggering traffic congestion and damaging vehicles. It is, therefore, not just a struggle for city residents, but it also has contribution to cumulative economic losses. As the problem of road damage from heavy rainfall and substandard repairs is well documented and widely reported, the government should immediately take appropriate and timely measures so that public sufferings could come to an end.
The reasons of this sorry state of road stretches in the capital are public knowledge. Everybody knows the reasons — poor maintenance and substandard construction of roads, unapproved heavy vehicle movement and unplanned, uncoordinated digging of roads by different government agencies. The unplanned digging of roads in the name of ‘development work’ by different agencies, approved by city authorities, which has become an annual event before every rainy season, makes city life terrible. There are also instances when holes dug for construction purposes are kept open for months. Even a minimum standard is not maintained in most of the cases in repairing these holes. Because of substandard efforts of city authorities, it is not surprising that the repaired roads are easily damaged in a couple of months. There are also allegations that no effective monitoring and accountability are in place and unscrupulous building contractors are given work on political considerations. Civic groups that advocate for a better Dhaka are often found blaming pervasive corruption in different government offices responsible for poor road safety standards and horrible traffic system in Dhaka. The authorities concerned can no longer turn a blind eye to the increasingly worsening road condition and related water stagnation problem and traffic congestion. One of the main mandates of the city corporations is to oversee and maintain the roads and ensure smooth, safe passage for city dwellers.
The government, therefore, must immediately act to repair the roads, lanes and by-lanes of Dhaka city as well as force the city authorities of the capital Dhaka to take a coordinated approach towards road-digging by different agencies. A transparent mechanism to strictly monitor the repairs is necessary. In addition, the accountability of public spending in such repairs is a must.
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