After locals protested the use of substandard materials in the road construction, they were sued under an alleged extortion case
Cracks and potholes are not an unusual sight on rural roads in Bangladesh, but having newly-laid asphalt fall apart in just days into the construction of a road is just not normal.
Locals have witnessed such faults in the construction of the Hossanabad-Mathurapur road in Daulatpur upazila of Kushtia.
Since the newly constructed road is being paved with substandard materials, the asphalt concedes to a good tug, allege locals.
Responding to local complaints, Upazila Engineer Iftekhar Uddin Joardar suspended the road pavement work after seeing the irregularities in action on a recent visit to the construction site.
According to official sources, several road construction projects are currently underway in Daulatpur upazila, all funded by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED).
The 1.7km-long Hossanabad-Mathurapur road is one such project, which was awarded to Titu Enterprise, a local contractor company, at just over Tk69 lakh.
The construction work, scheduled to start on December 29 last year, was supposed to be completed by March 12 this year. As the contractor company failed to complete the work within the stipulated time, it is now scrambling to finish the work, yielding inferior results, allege locals.
The situation led to the locals filing official complaints with the LGED district executive engineer’s office.
Motasim Billah, a local resident, said: “We have been seeing irregularities in road construction for quite some time. However, in a shocking twist, some locals were recently sued under a false extortion case filed by one of the contractors for protesting the use of inferior construction materials.”
According to the case statement, locals failing to get the demanded extortion money of Tk10 lakh from the contractors, attacked some construction workers and scraped the newly-laid asphalt off the road, he added.
This correspondent learned that Titu Enterprise, after getting the contract for the road construction, delegated the responsibilities to another contractor named Nasir Uddin.
Contacted, Contractor Nasir Uddin said Titu, proprietor of Titu Enterprise, was his uncle and they were carrying out the contract in collaboration.
When asked about the allegations of using substandard materials in road construction, he said the upazila engineer was overseeing the project and so there was no chance of such irregularities.
Meanwhile, Daulatpur Upazila Engineer Iftekhar Uddin Joardar said he had to suspend the construction work after seeing the use of inferior materials in the road pavement work. “Samples were collected from the project site and sent to the district office. Necessary steps will be taken in this regard after testing the sample.”