Uncovered trucks raising dust, air pollution in Dhaka overnight

  • Obaidur Masum, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-12-26 02:29:54 BdST

Uncovered trucks hauling construction materials overnight in and around Dhaka are posing a significant health risk as the dust from the vehicles adds to the already polluted air of the capital.

Around 20,000 trucks carry construction materials like sand, brick and cement every night from the outskirts of the city into it, according to estimates by the Bangladesh Truck Covered Van Owners’ Association.

Related people have blamed the labourers’ negligence and lack of knowledge for the air pollution caused by the particles from the trucks as the workers show little or no willingness to cover the vehicles and spray water after unloading the materials.

Mismanagement in all the stages of piling, transporting and processing the construction materials is causing the particles to mix up in and pollute the air, architect Iqbal Habib told bdnews24.com.

“Dense fog doesn’t let the air to go up much during winter. And the toxic particles, dust create a mixture, making the air heavy,” he said, noting that thousands of trucks carrying the construction materials was the main reason behind such pollution. 

Inhaling these particles can cause lung inflammation, bronchitis and many other diseases of the eye and nose while deteriorating asthma of those already affected, Professor ABM Abdullah, dean of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University’s medicine department, said.

Zafar Ahmed, who was driving a truck covered by a thick layer of cement towards Gabtoli after unloading, said it belonged to a firm, The Cement Joint, which supplies cement to Dhaka from Bridge Ghat in Aminbazar on the outskirts of the city using at least 1,000 trips a day.

Zafar said cement always gets out of sacks through leaks while loading or unloading.

Nurunnabi, a sand trader at Balughat in Gabtoli, said no labourer wants to use canvases to cover construction materials while transporting even though the owners have bought them the covers.

Meer Hossain, a labourer, said they usually do not care about covering the construction materials at night when police surveillance weakens. Many other labourers also said they cover the goods only in day time.

A traffic policeman said they generally do not stop the trucks at night considering the speed. “The drivers of these unfit trucks are so reckless that it arouses fear whenever you think of signalling them to stop at night. Life comes first,” he said.

SPREADING FROM THE CONSTRUCTION SITES

Besides dry construction materials, the trucks are also spreading dust throughout the city by dripping mud dug from construction sites, which eventually dries and creates dust.

Mud stuck in truck tyres also spread a long way from the construction sites.

Driver Abdul Hye blamed the contractors. “It would not have happened had the contractors taken proper steps,” he said.

He said many conscious contractors or building owners use rugs at entrances of construction sites so that the trucks do not carry mud on the tyres.

WHAT THE AUTHORITIES ARE DOING

Bangladesh Truck Covered Van Owners’ Association President Md Rustom Ali Khan told bdnews24.com that they were aware about the issue.

“But we can’t stop carrying these goods. We will keep an eye so that these do not pollute the environment. We had said this [to drivers and labourers] several times before. We will tell them again,” he said.

Basudeb Banik, a joint commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s traffic department, said he would need to see the new Road Transport Act first before commenting on the issue.

“We are implementing this law carefully,” he said.

Rubina Akter, a director at the Department of Environment, said no action against such trucks is mentioned in the law.

“We are conducting mobile court drives in construction areas to stop keeping materials and digging here and there. But this [transporting construction materials by uncovered trucks] is beyond our mobile court’s authority,” she said.