Low quality bitumen is entering in the country
In absence of proper testing of the imported bitumen and consequently is being used in constructing roads.
Peoples Time Desk
It is learnt that imported bitumen is being entered in the country without BSTI certification and does not have approval from Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).
Bangladesh is mostly dependent on imported bitumen. The country imports 80 per cent of its total bitumen demand while state-owned Eastern Refinery produces the rest 20 per cent.
The entire volume of imported bitumen is coming in the country just only basing on the import order through ports.
Owing to the facts, the experts think that this important product which use in road construction should be checked and rechecked while entering in the country to ensure its proper quality and durability of roads.
Assessment of bitumen by local testing organizations and lab can make sure the quality of the imported bitumen, they said adding that in that case government should have a clear directives.
As bitumen is freely entering in the country without quality test, importers also do not have to face any test in importing bitumen.
Following the fact, low-quality bitumen is being used in road construction around the year and as a result roads get dilapidated very soon.
Professor of department of Civil Engineering at BUET Dr Shamsul Hoque, also public transport expert, told daily sun Bangladesh constructs roads using bitumen since long.
As the load of roads is getting heavier, quality bitumen should be used in constructing roads, said Dr Shamsul.
Narrating the reasons behind the dilapidated roads across the country, the professor thinks that low quality of bitumen easily hamper the durability of roads.
Talking about the import and use of low graded bitumen, another road expert Ilias Kanchan, also founder and chairman of Nirapad Sarak Chai, said that quality bitumen is not being used in line with the country’s weather.
To ensure sustainability of roads, quality bitumen should be used alongside the proper drainage system, he added.
Citing example of England’s bitumen made road, Kanchan suggests using quality bitumen with applicable techniques.
Bitumen is a binding organic material made from the by-products of refined crude oil. It is widely used in road construction because it is easy to produce, reusable, non-toxic, and a strong binder.
Sources at Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) said Bangladesh has a demand of around five lakh metric tonnes of bitumen annually. Of the total demand, ERL supplies 70,000 tonnes and the rest is imported from Middle East countries.
According to Roads and Highways Department, Bangladesh uses two types of bitumen. 60/70 grade is better which ensure sustainable road development.
Another one is 80/100 grade bitumen which is more liquid than the 60/70 grade bitumen. During the rainy season, 80/100-grade bitumen does not sustain and roads get dilapidated sooner.
In an investigation, it was found that drums of bitumen are flooded the market made by mixing of half bitumen and half turpentine (turpin). An unholy syndicate controls the adulterate bitumen market.
Visiting several areas, it was seen that many roads across the country are in dire situation. 60-70 percent of the roads got dilapidated within one year of its construction due to the use of low-quality bitumen.
Blaming lack of monitoring on the imported bitumen, sector insiders said that approval or test by government organization and private laboratory after unloading bitumen from ports is a must to ensure quality.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges has a directive on use of good quality, especially 60/70 grade bitumen for constructing roads across the country.
Despite the directives, the importers are not paying attention on using quality bitumen causing road damage and waste government money.