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Poor vigilance invites tragedies

Mega projects lack safety measures: Moghbazar-Malibagh flyover cost jumps to Tk. 1219 cr from Tk 773 cr

Mega projects lack safety measures:  Moghbazar-Malibagh flyover cost jumps to Tk. 1219 cr from Tk 773 cr
photo by NN Photo

The construction company, assigned for building Malibagh-Mouchak-Moghbazar flyover, seems to be careless even after the death of one person due to fall of a girder. Photo shows, the construction work is going on without any safety warning where different

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19th-Mar-2017       
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Badrul Ahsan :
Legal bindings of safety measures for pedestrians, residents and workers in and around the under construction mega projects in Dhaka and other cities have long been violated by the contractors mainly due to poor vigilance by the concerned authorities, sources said.
They added that due to the insufficient measures for safety and security, several casualties like death and injuries have occurred several times centering these projects.
Besides, slow progress or no progress in delivering justice for such incidents also made the contractors darer to show thumb to the government authorities as well as to the life and properties of general people.
People involved with the mega projects preferring anonymity said, "Several incidents like death and injuries have occurred earlier both in Dhaka and Chittagong but we did not see any sign of punishment of the culprits till date. So, neither the government's concerned authorities nor contractors bother about the safety measures."   
After a visit to the city's Moghbazar-Malibagh flyover, the costliest project in South Asia, on Thursday, this correspondent found that although a man died and two others were injured after a girder fell off from a flyover during construction work at Malibagh rail gate just three days ago, safety measures were widely ignored in the project till yesterday (Thursday).
Workers at the project were found working on the flyover without wearing any helmet, safety belts, boots or other things needed as safety measures. Besides, no measures like isolated boundaries and steel sheds were not in place to ensure safety of the pedestrians or nearby residents.     
Shopkeepers and pedestrians alleged that small incidents frequently occur in the area due to apathy of the authorities concerned.
"Many people have been facing various incidents from the beginning of the flyover project, but they couldn't say anything as the contractor is a political muscleman," said Golum Nahid Rabbani, a shopkeeper adjacent to the under construction flyover at Malibagh.
"Few days back, oil tanker of a biker was also damaged due to fall of a piece of stone from the top of the flyover. If the stone would fall on his head, what would be than? he questioned.
According to our district correspondents, similar scenarios also persist in the mega projects in other cities, including Chittagong and Comilla.
Our Chittagong correspondent said, small or medium incidents centering construction of flyover have become a regular phenomenon in the port city.
"None wants to speak against the unlawful activities of the contractor as political musclemen are involved with the work. Besides, absence of justice also forced them to be mum over the irregularities," he added.
According to him, 15 people died and more than 50 others seriously injured in November 24 in 2012 in Chittagong as girder fell off from the under construction Bahaddar Hat flyover. The than government formed three committees to find out the guilty, but the committees are yet submitted their reports.
"We are in doubt whether the victims would get justice. If not, then the scenario would go worst gradually. None will expect any punishment of their illegal activity," Nazma Sultana, a resident of Chittagong, said.  
Our Comilla correspondent said, the contractor of flyover in Comilla does not even comply with a single safety issue.
"There is neither any barricade nor any cautionary signs in the project area which frequently lead to medium and minor accidents," he said.
However, the construction of the Moghbazar-Malibagh flyover is unlikely to end soon, mainly because the project had changed of its plans, said a top official of the Local Government Division requesting anonymity.
The 8-km Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover project was taken up in January 2011 by the LGED and it was supposed to be completed by December 2014. The concerned authorities brought changes in the design along with expanding project cost and extending time by one and a half years, until 2016. But the progress of the construction work is still unsatisfactory. The cost of the project jumped to Tk 1,219 crore from Tk 773 crore, an increase by 58 per cent.
The construction cost was calculated at Tk 97 crore per km at the beginning but now it stands at Tk 152 crore per km. The work has not been completed yet even though an extended deadline expired several months ago.
Meanwhile, neither any project official nor contractor wanted to talk to the journalists regarding the issue despite several attempts.

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