The Financial Express

RHD seeks Tk 13.43b more to carry out maintenance work

| Updated: January 30, 2018 21:24:26

Workers carrying out maintenance work on Sylhet-Tamabil-Jaflong road under Sylhet Road Division. - RHD file photo Workers carrying out maintenance work on Sylhet-Tamabil-Jaflong road under Sylhet Road Division. - RHD file photo

The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has sought around 75 per cent higher allocation in the revised budget for the current fiscal year aiming to carry out periodic maintenance works.

Sources said the RHD sought additional fund of Tk 13.43 billion in the middle of the current fiscal year on various grounds.

With this amount, the RHD has so far sought Tk 31.47 billion to protect the countrywide road network from damages caused by prolonged floods and incessant rains.

The government has also allotted Tk 1.30 billion for carrying out emergency repair work of roads heavily damaged by floods and rains, sources said.

"We need extra fund to keep the road network smooth," an official concerned said, adding that around 40 per cent of the country's road network now remains in dilapidated condition.

The RHD received Tk 14.90 billion for road maintenance work in the FY 2016-17 which was, more or less, maintained during the last three years. The government has allocated Tk 18.04 billion for the RHD in the budget for the current FY 2017-18.

According to the RHD, 1177.09-km roads in 11 districts of the country were damaged by prolonged floods during the period between July and September last year.

Sources said RHD has requested the government to allocate the funds in advance from the next fiscal year's budget so that road repair works can be carried out before the next rainy season.

When asked whether they would not get any budget for road maintenance work next year, the officials said periodic maintenance work is a regular phenomena and it would be done even with fund from the development budget, if necessary.

The RHD has long been criticised for substandard road maintenance work as most of roads turn unfit during the rainy season every year.

The department officials, however, claimed that the government was not providing them with adequate fund to maintain routine and periodic maintenance works. They also blamed overloading for severe damages to roads and highways soon after construction.

Official sources said of the total allocation placed this year, Tk 9.66 billion was sought to reduce the RHD's backlog which was created due to inadequate funds allocated for periodic maintenance works.

Besides, Tk 250 million will be needed to repair the roads which got damaged by landslides in hill tract areas during the first half of the current fiscal year.

Sources, however, said the RHD sought Tk 250 million as Bangladesh Army placed the demand for the fund to develop the road network in hill tract areas.

Tk 1.32 billion was also sought to pay different contractors which remained due during FY 2011-12 and FY 2013-14.

According to Highway Development and Management, RHD would need Tk 290 billion till 2020 to manage overall maintenance work of the country's 22,000-kilometre road network.

RHD Chief Engineer Ibne Alam Hasan said every year the department compromises on its demand for allocation of fund to road maintenance work. "But there is a crying need for maintenance works only on those roads."

"We face challenges every year as one-fifth of our demand is not met," he told the FE at his office.

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