Experts have suggested ensuring the use of quality bitumen in road construction to help improve the durability and longevity of roads and highways.
As Bangladesh is largely dependent on imported bitumen, they also opined for a thorough quality assessment of the imported bitumen products.Dr Shamsul Hoque, a public transport expert and professor of the Department of Civil Engineering at BUET, observed that most of the roads in Bangladesh have been built using imported bitumen and do not last long due to various reasons.
“Only the use of quality bitumen can ensure the durability and longevity of roads. Low-quality bitumen makes roads prone to damages sooner than the expected timeframe,” he added.
Opining to find the root cause for quick damage of roads, Dr Shamsul Hoque said that improving the quality of roads can save the huge public money spent every year on repairing and maintenance.
Bitumen specialist and Islamic University of Technology (IUT) assistant professor Nazmus Shakib said most of the roads in Bangladesh get partly damaged due to the use of low-quality bitumen.
Bangladesh uses imported bitumen in road construction, but the assessment of its quality is very poor. “Imported bitumen stays in ships for a long period before entering the country without further quality test,” he said, adding that there are a lot of differences in the quality of imported bitumen.
Talking about the import and use of low graded bitumen, Ilias Kanchan, founder and chairman of Nirapad Sarak Chai, said quality bitumen is not being used based on the adaptability of the country’s weather.“Use of low-quality bitumen makes roads less durable and prone to developing potholes. As a result, every year thousands of people die in accidents due to faulty road conditions,” said Ilian Kanchan. To ensure the sustainability of roads and save lives, he urged the government to strongly monitor the use of bitumen.
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.
According to Road Maintenance Management System (RMMS) data, Bangladesh has around 22,419-kilometer roads across the country in different categories. There are around 3980km roads under the national highway, 4897km under the regional highway and 13,541km roads at the district level.
Bangladesh imports 87 per cent of its total bitumen demand while state-owned Eastern Refinery produces the rest 13 per cent.
Sources at Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) said Bangladesh has a demand of around five lakh metric tonnes of bitumen annually. Of the total demand, ERL supplies 60,000- 70,000 metric tonnes and the rest is imported from Middle East countries.