Stop illicit import of bitumen

22 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bitumen is an essential ingredient for road construction across the country. It is a matter of regret that while local investors are trying to make Bangladesh self-reliant in bitumen production, a section of dishonest traders are importing sub-standard bitumen from abroad. When this low quality and cheap bitumen is used for construction of roads, it is unable to ensure road durability and longevity what actually happens in our country. As a consequence, roads get damaged in short intervals requiring their constant renovation.

In the name of road renovation, a routine business involving hundreds of crores of taka is spent every year. While renovating roads, unscrupulous contractors use imported bitumen in exchange of high bribe from importers incurring great loss to public exchequer. Dishonest people earn unlimited profits at the cost of public sufferings. However, the government learnt about import of sub-standard bitumen from abroad through mass media where stories of this type of bad practice have been highlighted time and again. So, in a recent circular, the authorities concerned have directed the Customs authority that any imported bitumen cannot be released without a quality test certificate from the respective authorities.

But, we have come to know from a story published in this newspaper on Monday that two importing companies ignored the government directive on mandatory quality test of imported bitumen. What is more surprising is that they released Iranian bitumen labelling it as a product of the UAE as Iran faces an international trade ban. But, how did the importers take the vessel to their depot dodging Customs' eyes although it was seized by the authorities concerned following a High Court order? All about the mysteries behind the corrupt practices and gross irregularities should be unravelled by conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.  

The incident has also exposed the routine bad practices being pursued our ports. We hope the corrupt personnel will be taken to task as per law in line with the government’s stance of taking a 'zero tolerance' policy against corruption wherever it exists.