The work to upgrade the Jashore-Khulna highway started in May 2018 was supposed to end in June this year. But the work halted due to the novel coronavirus and the project deadline was extended to December this year.
However, eight kilometres of the highway, which was already constructed, has swelled up and become a deadly trap for the vehicles plying it.
Local people complained that the highway swelled up because of the poor quality of ingredients used in constructing it.
However, SM Moazzem Hossain, executive engineer of RHD office in Jashore, said, "The highway might have swelled up because of the overloaded vehicles from industrial city Nawapara plying it. Also, the severe heat of the sun might have caused it."
Sources at the RHD said the government allocated Tk321 crore to develop 38 kilometres of the Jashore-Khulna highway.
Contractor companies – Mahbub and Brothers, and Toma Construction and Co – have already finished upgrading 27 kilometres of the highway.
Previously, the highway was 24 feet wide, and it is being upgraded to a 34-feet wide two-lane highway.
Local people alleged that the contractor companies were not following any rules stipulated in the tender for upgrading the highway.
The construction companies allegedly dug up old bricks used in the road previously during the British era and reused them to fill up the base for the road.
Besides, the contractors were supposed to make the highway on the 5-feet-deep base, but they did not.
Abdul Jabbar, a resident of Basundoya area beside the highway, said, "There were severe irregularities in constructing the road, but we did not see the authority doing anything about it."
Abdus Salam Chakladar, general secretary of Jashore Bus Owners Association, said, "I have never seen a road swelling up. It [the newly built road] has become a death trap."
"This has happened because of irregularities by the contractor companies and the RHD. This is harming our vehicles and putting our lives at risk," he added.
SM Moazzem Hossain said, "The bitumen used in our country is of poor quality. We are appointing a consultant to identify the causes for swelling. The portions of the road which swelled up will be constructed again."
He said the contractors could not evade the RHD's supervision to violate rules in constructing the road. Officials were appointed to supervise the road when the construction work began.
"If there is any irregularity despite all these steps, the authority will take action," he added.