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Understaffed, untidy RHD longs for setup recast

Organogram shelved for over a year; country’s ways, highways lack proper upkeep


Munima Sultana | Published: February 20, 2018 09:50:22 | Updated: February 20, 2018 20:10:12


Government's Roads and Highways Department (RHD) long awaits its planned restructuring through upgradation of its organogram for proper upkeep of country's underserved ways and highways.

Officials said the department drafted its new organogram more than a year before with provisions for reconstructing its working area and increasing capacity in accordance with need of the time.

Sources said the draft, prepared by RHD's own committee after discussion with all divisions, circles and wings concerned, remained in the ministry for months.

The committee was formed in 2016 to review its work, assess extent and nature of works which had increased during last two decades and awaits for increase in next 20 years. The draft was submitted to the MoRTB early 2017.

Officials said the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Bridges (MoRTB) held meetings with the RHD officials several times in this regard. But none of these meetings could finalise it for lack of confidence as the organogram proposed a significant increase in both skilled and non-skilled manpower.

The RHD proposed to restructure its setup with an increase in technical hands by 200 per cent.

It also seeks to set up 25 wings and 10 zones from seven zones for handling a rising volume of work and for management and maintenance of the country's existing and new national highways and regional roads.

RHD's last organogram with 620 technical hands was approved in 1991 as per a proposal made by the Enam Commission.

The department has now nearly 9,000 cadre-and non-cadre staff members, including 620 engineers, to manage 21,302 kilometres of highways and regional roads along with small and large bridges.

"But many of these posts remain vacant either as engineers have gone on retirement or are working for different government agencies on deputation," said one official.

The manpower increase has been proposed after a time-lag of 25 years as it is already hamstrung by multifarious problems to develop new road network and manage its existing one with this nominal number of staffers, the sources said.

RHD's research wing said the volume of work had increased more than 40 per cent in the last 10 years as well as surface areas of the existing roads by 10-15 per cent during the period.

The department has already got more than 500 kilometres of four-lane highways in its existing highway network and is likely to get another 260km four-lane national corridor in next two years. Besides, the department is set to go for tendering another 1,500km highway soon.

According to the latest change, the number of field-level hands, for example assistant engineers, is proposed to be over 900 from 216.

It proposed the setting up of some 10 new wings for creating scope of new areas, including four-lane national highways, public-private partnership, regional-connectivity development and expressways.

Due to an increase in the volume of work and maintenance demand, the national highways wing of RHD has proposed to work under three circles--east, west and large bridge circle--to make important road infrastructure safe and hazard-free as well as make the department capable and efficient till 2041.

RHD officials claim that the committee, keeping in mind the growth of Bangladesh to become a middle-income country and developed country and establish international and regional connectivity, proposed all the changes to the scenario.

But, ministry sources said, in absence of any study in the proposal, there is still lack of confidence in proposed changes and needs are felt for carrying out more scrutiny before approval.

It is still working on job descriptions in changed scenario and salary structure as proposed by the RHD, they added.

They said being the implementing agency, there is no alternative but to increase the capacity of the RHD due to increase in the road infrastructure and trend in development.

Not only the number of transports and volume did increase since 1991 but also types of vehicles pushed the department to redesign its roads and operate and manage them with skilled hands, they added.

A ministry official, however, said: "There is no doubt about revision of the organogram--it will be finalised soon."

smunima@yahoo.com

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