Work on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in the capital continues without any safety measures in place even after the August 15 box girder collapse that claimed the lives of five people.
Heavy materials were being lifted by cranes at Tongi of Gazipur without erecting safety fences and diverting vehicles or stopping those, forcing the vehicles and commuters to move under the cranes taking life risk.
Gazipur city Awami League leader Abdur Rashid, his wife Razia Sultana and two sons -- Ruman and Rafi -- were in the car while driver Sohag at the steering when the accident took place.
Earlier in the morning of the day, Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary ABM Amin Ullah Nuri visited the Tongi portion of the project and said there was lack of safety and security measures at some points.
He also asked the project officials to take necessary steps in this regard.
Referring to Friday’s incident, Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Atiqul Islam on Sunday lamented as to when good senses will prevail on the authorities.
While addressing a meeting with the officials of the BRT and other projects at the DNCC Bhaban, he also said the government should not be made embarrassed for their negligence and people should not be left to suffer.
About the crane drivers, he said their health should be examined regularly and they should go through dope tests. Atiqul said he will pay random visits to the project areas together with magistrates. “If any irregularity is found, legal action will be taken,” he said.
During a fact-finding visit to the project area at Uttara on Sunday, it was seen that no safety measures were in place while work was underway. No safety net was set up to protect commuters from being hit with broken composite materials that are lying on the middle of the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.
Vehicles have to ply taking risk of being scratched and hit with the materials.
Some drivers said their motorised vehicles often get rubbed with the falling concrete materials.
They said heavy box girders have been put on the middle of the highway. One girder was put on another, posing risk of those falling on commuters.
As the composite materials were put haphazardly on the highway, the space for vehicular movement has been narrowed, contributing to traffic gridlock, said the drivers.
The random keeping of the materials is obstructing cleaners from cleaning the area properly, resulting in huge dust and causing different diseases.
At least 11 people were killed and 278 others injured in accidents in the BRT project area in the last nine years, said Save the Road, a road safety advocacy forum.
Besides, 180 patients died in ambulances in tailback in the project area during the period, it said.
Traffic gridlock from Dhaka Airport to Tongi in Gazipur caused by the BRT project is eating up Tk 26-50 crore every day, Shanta Farzana, secretary general of the organisation, said, adding that the traffic jam in the BRT project area is killing 13-14 working hours every day with wastage of fuel.
Meanwhile, another case was filed with a Dhaka court on Sunday morning over the Uttara girder tragedy.
Ten people, who were arrested in Dhaka, Gazipur, Sirajganj and Bagerhat on Wednesday, were made accused in the case on charges of negligent murder.
Shahida Khanam, the first wife of victim Ayub Hossain Rubel, lodged the case with the Court of Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Jasim.
The accused are crane driver Al Amin Hossain alias Hridoy, crane helper Rakib Hossain, China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC) officer Manjurul Islam and safety engineer Zulfikar Ali Shah, traffic control men -- Mohammad Rubel, and Afroj Mia --, heavy equipment supplier company Ifskan Bangladesh Ltd’s proprietor Iftekhar Hossain, and its head of operation Azharul Islam Mithu, crane supplier Build Trade Company’s marketing manager Tofazzal Hossain alias Tushar and its administrative officer Ruhul Amin Mridha.
The court ordered Uttara West Police Station to investigate the allegation and submit findings before the court.
On August 15, a private car carrying seven people, including a newlywed couple, was moving towards Ashulia from Dakkhinkhan of the capital.
Around 4:20pm, a box girder of the BRT project fell on the car at Uttara Sector-3 after a carne got tilted while lifting the girder, killing five members of two families and injuring the newlywed couple.
A case was filed against the construction firm and some others with Uttara West Police Station on the same day.