The six-laning work of Rajkot-Ahmedabad highway has been delayed by three years. While the commuters are facing hardships, there is no timeline when the work will be completed.
There are numerous traffic diversions and road blockages on the highway and the project is going on for the past five years. Contractors engaged in the project are not responding to notices issued by the national highways division of the roads and buildings department of the state government.
The communication between the contractors and the authority and the notices issued by the authority became public through two (RTI) replies. The RTI replies revealed that the two contractors who were assigned the work for four sections of the highway have defaulted in the work and only 40 to 50 per cent of the work has been completed. The work for the four sections was assigned to the two contractors in January 201.
The deadline for the completion of the work was January 2020. In the letter of “intention to issue termination notice” issued by the national highway division’s executive engineer on December 21, 2022 to Sadbhav Engineering Ltd, it is mentioned that the contractor continued to perform poorly without taking any remedial measures to cure the default. The contractor was responsible for Sayla-Bamanbor section.
According to the communication, the authority took into consideration the difficult financial situation of the contractor and in July 2022 allowed sub-contracting and direct payment to the sub-contractor in order to put the project on fast track. But the contractor unnecessary consumed three months and brought a tri-party agreement in October 2022.
The authority’s engineer reported on November 24, 2022 that the contractor or sub-contractor started demobilization of manpower, machinery and materials (cement, steel, bitumen etc) from the project site without prior permission of the authority.
The work for the Bagodra-Limdi section of the highway was also assigned to this contractor. The work for Rajkot-Bamanbor section was assigned to Varaha Infra Ltd. The letter written by the authority’s consultant and supervising agency to the contractor mentions, “We have come to know from various sources that the contractor’s firm is being/has been taken over by a financial institution and this important fact is suppressed from the authority.”
The letter also mentioned that contractor’s intention was to abandon the work. In this letter also sent to all concerned officers of the roads and buildings department, the consultant mentioned that “the contractor has no intention to abide by the contract agreement despite ample opportunities and warning given by the authority.”
The work of Limdi-Sayla section was also assigned to the same contractor.
RTI activist Shailendrasinh Jadeja said, “I received the replies to two RTI applications 20 days back. All the letters of warning were issued by the authority only after the deadline for the project completion ended. There was no supervision in the stipulated time of 730 days given to the contractors to complete the work. It is a negligence on the part of the officials and it is a big loss to the nation.”