A huge amount of public money is wasted every year for repairing the dilapidated and damaged roads built with low-quality bitumen.
Sources said around Tk 2,000 crore is spent every year on expensive road repairs thanks to the poor durability of roads and highways.According to Road Transport and Highways Division data, the government’s expenditure on road repairs and rehabilitation has been increasing every year due to poor condition of roads across the country.
Experts and sector insiders opined that the spending might have been far less if the roads were constructed with quality bitumen.
“The durability and longevity of roads depend on the quality of bitumen,” they said, adding that the use of quality bitumen should be ensured in road construction to help save public money.
Bangladesh’s road network gets damaged a lot sooner than the expected longevity period due to poor construction, especially for the use of imported low-quality bitumen.
As there is no scope to check the quality of imported bitumen, low-quality bitumen is entering in the country and being used in road construction.
According to Road Transport and Highways Division data, the government allocated Tk 1873.52 crore for repairing roads in FY 2019-20. The amount spent on road repairs stood at Tk 2083.11 crore in FY 2018-19. In FY 2017-18, the government spent Tk 1704.48 crore for repairing roads.It has been learnt that the amount is much lower than the demand raised by different government agencies for road repairs and maintenance.
Apart from the allocation, a portion of the budgetary allocation for constructing new roads is also spent on repairing and maintenance purpose. A top official at the Roads and Highway Department said the financial value of the demand for road repairs amounts to Tk 50,000 crore over the last 10 years. Against the demand, around Tk 15,000 crore has been spent for repairing and reconstructing damaged roads.
Despite the repairs carried out every year, a large portion of roads remains in dilapidated condition across the country.
Some Tk 29,441 crore has been allocated for the construction and renovation of new roads in the current financial year. In the previous year also, Tk 29,274 crore was allocated for this purpose.
Dr. Md. Hadiuzzaman, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Bangladesh University of Science and Technology, said roads in Bangladesh are built with imported bitumen from different countries. “The implementing agencies must use quality bitumen to improve the durability of roads,” he said.
“It is time to shift our focus to quality grade and high-performance bitumen to improve the durability of roads and thus minimize the needs for repairs,” said Dr Hadiuzzaman.
Noted transportation expert Dr Shamsul Hoque said one of the main causes of damaged roads is waterlogging and the movement of overweight vehicles on flexible pavements.
He also urged the officials concerned to be sincere in the road maintenance work.
Dr. Md Mizanur Rahman, Director, Accident Research Institute, said every country uses bitumen products based on its weather and 60/70 grade bitumen adapts well to Bangladesh’s weather.
If low-quality bitumen is used in road construction, roads get damaged and dilapidated during the rainy season and summer --- creating the needs for expensive repairs every year, he added.
According to Road Maintenance Management System (RMMS) data, Bangladesh has around 22,419-kilometer roads across the country in different categories. There are around 3980 km roads under the national highway, 4897 km under the regional highway and 13,541 km roads at the district level.