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Dhaka Tribune

The perils of mega projects

Update : 29 Mar 2017, 01:53 AM
Most of the mega development projects the government has implemented or is working on put people and construction workers at grave risk due to a lack of proper safety measures. Despite the March 13 death of a worker in a girder collapse of the much-hyped under-construction Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover in Malibagh rail gate area, safety issues in construction sites continue to remain neglected. Two others were also badly injured in the accident. During some recent visits to such construction sites, including the flyover’s Malibagh part and Mirpur where work on the metro-rail project is under way, workers were found discharging their duties with little safety gears. Though most of them were wearing helmets, not all of them were seen using special boots and retro-reflective vests, masks and even gloves, mandatory for such work. There is even no fence around the construction site of the flyover, leaving vehicles and pedestrians in danger of serious casualty. However, there are some enclosures at the metro-rail project site. An accident can very easily be triggered by a falling brick, a broken bamboo panel or scrawny metallic pieces, with such risk increasing manifold at night.20170328-RajibDhar-3789 Poor condition of the drainage system in Malibagh’s DIT Road often results in water stagnation without any rain, as seen yesterday afternoon. Such a condition becomes a matter of concern as open manholes and deep potholes remain submerged and unnoticed by commuters, increasing the chances of fatal accidents Rajib DharThere is hardly any signboard or cautionary signals at the sites to warn people to remain vigilant. Such risky construction sites are a gross violation of the Dhaka Metropolitan Building (Construction, Development, Protection and Removal) Rules of 2008 which has stipulated necessary safety measures in and around any construction site. According to the rules, it is a must to set up temporary barriers and alternative roads to ensure the safety of the people. The workers are operating heavy machines in dusty and toxic environments, further exposing themselves to health hazards. “Our employer has provided us with some helmets, anti-slip footwear and protective vest etc, but they are inadequate,” a construction worker at the flyover told the Dhaka Tribune, requesting anonymity. “We are yet to get protective masks, special glasses and first aid facilities at the construction yard,” he added. When contacted, the construction firm Toma Group’s Chairman and Managing Director Ataur Rahman Bhuiya Manik, responsible for the Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover, claimed to have taken all necessary safety measures for the workers. He instead accused the workers of not being accustomed to using the safety tools. “The accident was merely an accident despite all sorts of safety measures,” Manik claimed. Passersby and locals suggested more precaution and a safety campaign at Malibagh rail-crossing area since scores of trains run along the route every day. Abul Hashem, gatekeeper of Malibagh level crossing, said another girder had fallen on the ground at the same of the March 13 accident, recently. Luckily, nobody was injured then. Terming negligence of safety precaution by construction companies a key reason for accidents, Buet’s Professor Shamim Z Basunia said: “This is not a problem at Malibagh-Mouchak flyover alone. The reality is that the safety issues have always been neglected by the construction companies in the country.”CaptureHe also raised questions over safety measures at the Padma Bridge construction site, another mega project, where people visit whimsically, caring very little about own safety. “Safety measures for the workers and the pedestrians are never ensured in these projects areas”, he observed. The Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project, the official name of the metro rail scheme, stretching from Uttara to Motijheel, was undertaken for a safe, fast, affordable and modern means of public transportation to reduce the perennial traffic congestion in Dhaka and environmental pollution. But, the project is itself causing environmental degradation since construction equipment and materials are left lying around defying relevant law. People walking by the site were seen wearing masks to protect themselves from dust. At the Shewrapara area, roads were excavated haphazardly and that too without proper fencing, adding to the woes of the commuters and locals. When this reporter asked a labourer about the situation, he said they were told to mount the soil beside the road after digging. The project director, Md Mofazzel Hossain said: “We have a safety guideline provided by Jica to ensure necessary safety measures around the construction site and we will try our best to ensure hundred percent public security.” Nevertheless, the main construction of the project will begin by November, he stated.
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