The Ramu-Maricha road is one of the oldest roads in Cox's Bazar. Built during the British rule, the road has long been in need of renovation
The much-anticipated widening project recently undertaken on the Ramu-Maricha road in Cox’s Bazar has been drawing allegations of irregularities from concerned locals.
Soon after the project works began, locals complained that the contractor was not carrying out the works as per the intended plan.
However, according to official sources, the project is still in its early stages and is regularly monitored by state engineers, leaving no scope for irregularities.
The Ramu-Maricha road is one of the oldest roads in Cox's Bazar. Built during the British rule, the road has long been in need of renovation. Development of this road is crucial as it runs across important establishments and sites including the Ramu Cantonment, BGB's Ramu Sector Headquarters, a botanical garden, and the country's largest coconut seedling nursery.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges undertook a project worth Tk266 crore to upgrade and widen the 16km-long road to 36ft from the existing 9ft width.
Rana Builders, a contractor appointed by the ministry, officially started the construction work in September.
Locals said they are sceptical about the road’s sustainability because of the alleged use of sand instead of a mixture of sand, gravel and cobblestone on the subbase layer, which is often the main load-bearing layer of the pavement.
After a recent field inspection, Cox's Bazar 3 (Sadar-Ramu) MP Shaimum Sarwar Kamal had shut down the construction work for some time. The MP did not make any further comment on the matter.
The construction work later resumed allegedly without supervision from the roads and highways department.
Farooq Hossain, a resident of Ramu Dariardighi, said: “Since the beginning of the construction work, the contractor has been neglecting the adequate use of appropriate materials. So, we had informed the matter to our local MP.”
Abul Kalam of the same area said: “Occasionally, an officer from the roads and highways department comes and inspects the work. But, we suspect the officer is actually working in cahoots with the contractor.”
Denying the alleged irregularities, Saddam Hussein Talukder, project manager of Rana Builders, said the construction work was progressing as per plan under the supervision of senior government engineers. “A faction of locals with vested interests are trying to jeopardize the project through various means.”
Pintu Chakma, executive engineer of the Roads and Highways Department Cox's Bazar division office, said: “The road-widening project on the Ramu-Maricha road is still in its early stages. Engineers from the roads and highways department are overseeing the project daily. Action will be taken if irregularities are found in construction work.”
Speaking on the strategic importance the road has for the region, the official added that direct communication between Teknaf and Chittagong will reduce commute time drastically.