Massive corruption at Dhaleswari Bridge toll plaza
THE Dhaleswari Bridge on Dhaka- Mawa- Bhanga- Barishal- Patuakhali Highway, which plays a vital role in the country's economy, commerce and communications, has reportedly become a hub of corruption and making quick bucks. The toll plazas of the bridge, built over the river Dhaleswari, are the sources of illegal income of the contractor with alleged connivance of some officials concerned.
Surprisingly, a serious lax in monitoring the bridge's operations, and inaction of the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) against the perpetrators are allegedly responsible for the embezzlement of toll money for the last two years. But there was hardly any talk about the corruption until a complaint was lodged recently with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Road Transport and Bridges Ministry about the embezzlement of Tk 170 crore in the last two years.
Media report in a national daily on Thursday said that the collectors of the toll plazas realise about Tk 30 lakh everyday from the vehicles passing over the bridge whereas the government gets only Tk 3 lakh as revenue. From November 2018 to till-the-date, the government was deprived of a total of Tk 170 crore as revenue. The Parliamentary Standing Committee of the ministry held a lengthy discussion over the corruption issue on Wednesday with committee chairman Akabbar Hossain in the chair.
As reported, the concerned toll section of the Road and highway Department under the ministry placed relevant papers to the JS committee meeting where it was said that the contract was renewed with the MM Builders and Engineering Ltd following the existing law and rules.
After the meeting, committee member engineer Enamul Haque said that with the suggestion of the JS body a three-member enquiry team has been formed with the chief engineer of Road and Highways Department as it head to investigate the irregularities of the bridge.
It is to be noted that misappropriation of toll money of the Dhaleswari Bridge has become an open secret, while taking bribes from overloaded truckers to let them cross the bridge.
Clearly, the BBA itself cannot shrug off its responsibility in renewing toll collection contract with such an unscrupulous contractor. The government should give a serious look into the matter so that dishonest officials involved with the renewal are taken to book for severe punishment.