Marine drive still lies unutilised

IMED finds flaws in design

Munima Sultana | Published: June 17, 2019 10:16:08 | Updated: June 18, 2019 14:58:42

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The world's longest marine drive from Cox's Bazar to Teknaf along the Bay of Bengal remains unutilised two years after its completion due to 'faulty planning'.

The 80-kilometre driveway was built at an overrun of cost and 24 long years, sources said, it is not open to all types of transport for fear of damage.

Buses and trucks are not allowed on the road as cracks have developed in places, including at many points in only one kilometre from Kolatoli to Bailey hatchery.

The big-budget project was aimed to make a driveway to develop tourism and also to protect the shoreline from saline water and tidal surge.

The Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of Planning Commission recently detected flaws in the design while evaluating the project.

As part of its job to review impacts of finished projects, the IMED also found substandard construction at some points along with pitfalls at entry points.

It has suggested turning the two-lane road into a four-lane one to make the driveway an international-standard regional corridor for its link with Asian Highway.

The roads and highways department (RHD) undertook the project in 1993-94 to save the coastal area from tidal surge, and facilitate tourism and investment in maritime industries.

However, RHD sources said the project could not see the light of day until 2000 when the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved it.

Later in 2004, the department decided to construct an 80-km road in three phases for fund constraints.

The 24-km first phase from Kolatoli to Inani point was constructed in 2007-08 at Tk 937 million.

But the cost rose by more than 200 per cent in the second phase from Inani to Shilkhali for changes in the design.

That happened as the first-phase work was washed away by an unexpected tidal surge.

The initial cost of Tk 1.55 billion of the second phase increased to Tk 4.9 billion and completed in 2015.

The last 32-km road from Shilkhali to Teknaf was completed in 2017-18 at a cost of Tk 4.46 billion.

The RHD got the corridor project implemented by the engineering corps of Bangladesh Army.

Sources said the developer was supposed to hand over the drive to RHD soon after its completion to do some maintenance work, but it is still to do so.

The IMED report found that 700 metres from Kolatoli to Bailey Hatchery have been damaged.

Long queues of vehicles on either side of Rejukhali bridge form for its narrowness and poor state.

Though it has found the paved condition comparatively better, the survey team found a deviation from the plan at some points, mainly in the second-phase work.

Even approach to Monkhali bridge is also not matched with its width. Bridges lack adequate signs, signals and markings.

The report showed traffic on the road has increased by 47 per cent after its completion, but those are light and small vehicles.

Tourists mostly depend on three-wheelers and microbuses for lack of public transport. Pickups ship fish from several hundred hatcheries located along the corridor.

A former RHD official, who was then involved in implementing the project, admitted that the design of the driveway was not up to par. The department lacked such experts at that time, he told the FE wishing not to be named.

"RHD has a good number of engineers with technical expertise, but it has still no coastal engineers to design coastal road considering impacts of global warming," he claimed.

An official said the IMED also sought to demolish structures along the beach to make the driveway attractive for tourists, local and foreign alike.


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