THERE are rules to be observed in designing structures, for land use and proper building process and these were set out in the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) of 1993. But ironically, the BNBC's worst violators in many cases are found to be the government's own bodies which should have set the standard so that all others, specially private developers, would then have felt obliged to follow the code out of a concern of being judged as violators of the law. But the lack of respect for or incapacity of the government's construction bodies in these respects are not only adding to sub-standard construction activities of often vital projects throughout the country. The same also provides encouragement to private sector builders to regard legal requirements in construction rather casually.
Poor construction activities by government bodies not only lead to erection of weak and undependable buildings and other structures, it also costs the public purse huge amounts for reconstruction and maintenance. For instance, the Facilities Department of the Education Ministry is responsible for large scale construction of school buildings and the like. But time and again, newspapers reported the very poor quality of its construction activities in many cases. School houses built by this department collapsed in some places soon after the completion of the construction work and had to be rebuilt. Many of the buildings built by them were found with leaking roofs or other features of bad construction.
The lack of expertise and the devotion needed for proper construction form only one side to the problem curtailing the reliability of these government building organisations. Certainly the government's construction agencies need to increase their own abilities to supervise their work better including the ability to carry out basic maintenance work or to audit well on a regular basis their construction works. But the absence of such capacities or their presence in inconsequential forms show that, more than any other factor, corruption is the most glaring cause for non-observance of building procedures or using inferior construction materials deliberately. Corrupt employees of these departments can make personal gains for themselves and share the gains with contractors engaged in these public works.
It is unacceptable that Bangladesh, a least developed or one of the poorest countries, has no viable mechanism in place to ensure that scarce resources spent on account of its public works are being truly well spent. The present spectacle of wasteful use of resources in the domain of public works in this country appears to be a mockery to the economic and ethical principles. An institution of a proper and motivated regulatory body to supervise public works is a must.