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ACC finds corruption in RHD, but question is how it will fight

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09th-Mar-2018       
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MEDIA reports said, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been overwhelmed by huge corruption and irregularities in every project of the Roads and Highways Department at every step from their planning to implementation levels. To prevent such corruption and irregularities from tender process to pre-construction and post-construction maintenance, the ACC on Sunday sent a 21-point recommendation to the Cabinet Division.

The move comes from the Anti-Corruption Watchdog at a time when a survey report by World Bank recently found construction cost of per kilometer road in Bangladesh is at the highest against worst road condition compared to other Asian countries. The fairytale of government's success in economic development just fades away in the face of hill like corruption at all levels of the government and in road sector in particular.

It appears the ACC has pointed out several examples of corruption in roads, highways and other communication sector's project to the Cabinet; which are however not unknown to the Ministers and others in the government. It blamed project officials and contractors for overestimated project cost. Project officials even issue work order to many projects without basic feasibility studies. Contractors use low quality construction materials and realize inflated payment. Time and cost over-run are instrumental to huge embezzlement of fund that government leaders and officials at different levels eventually share themselves.

We must say these are known factors; what the ACC should do is to mobilize effective actions to catch big perpetrators behind all such irregularities and corruption. In all such matters, the ACC and the government can't be on the same page; the relation must be like cats and mouse instead of sharing common ground. It is clear the government leaders, big contractors and project officials are becoming fat overnight misusing money from big projects. The ACC is mandated to fight these corruptions and seal the loopholes. It needs covert and overt measures, not collaboration from the government.
 
We would welcome the ACC's new move to fight corruption in the road sector. But ACC officials must be honest and free from political bias in the first place. For ACC it is easy to detect corruption in road construction and house building using biggest budget annually and punish contractors and dishonest officials. It can send construction materials for laboratory test to unearth corruption. It can open investigation over tender quotations to find out over-estimation of project cost.

In our view ways are many but ACC must expand its outreach to catch powerful people in and around the government amassing illegal wealth. ACC can't be an instrument to unnecessarily punishing political opponents of the government.    

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