ALL the authorities appear to be more interested in the construction of road than its maintenance. The delay in the installation of axle load control stations is a case in point. In 2018, the Road Transport and Highway Division took a project to install such stations in 18 districts to check against the overloading of vehicles laden with goods, but the division is yet to complete the land acquisition. In two years, the authorities have done nothing but putting the job of 17 stations to tender where land acquisition should be the first crucial step. The additional secretary of the division at a meeting assured that they were regularly monitoring the project implementation and asked all concerned to act expeditiously. It is, however, not clear why a project so important for the durability of highways faces a delay, which is disconcerting given that the roads construction cost in Bangladesh is among the highest in the world.
Experts consider vehicle overloading as a major cause for an early damage to roads and bridges that adds to maintenance cost. The existing load control stations are often ineffective either because the machine is out of order or the stations do not have required human resources. An infrequent operation of the station on the Dhaka–Rangpur highway proved to be costly for the division. The division has to put additional money, as reports say, in the maintenance of the road from Banglabandha land port to Dhaka every five years. As for damage to the Meghna Bridge, recently repaired and expanded to four lanes, overloaded trucks are said to be majorly responsible. Experts have also expressed concern about various weight limits that are inconsistent with international standards for highways and bridges. The government has repeatedly failed to enforce the weight limit of international standards in the face of protests by truck owners and drivers.
The Road Transport and Highway Division must, therefore, ensure an expeditious implementation of the axle load control stations. It should do so for a judicious use of public money because an early damage to roads and highways means an increased maintenance cost. The authorities concerned, at the same time, need to address the concern about the standard weight limit for heavy vehicles. It is in no way acceptable that the government has increased the weight limit to serve the interests of transport owners. The government must also attend to the general tendency of slow and protracted implementation of projects under the Road Transport and Highways Division.
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