Fast-track projects to miss deadlines

Fast-track projects to miss deadlines

Shakhawat Hossain | Published: 01:10, Jun 02,2018  New Age

The first span of Padma Multipurpose Bridge is being installed.– New Age file photo

The government has failed to speed up the implementation of the sluggish fast-track projects despite giving special priority to transport schemes, including Padma Multipurpose Bridge, in the outgoing financial year 2018.
The government put 10 mega projects on fast truck in 2014 but gave special priority to Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Padma bridge rail-link, Dhaka Mass Rapid Transport, known as Metro Rail, and Dohazari-Ramu-Cox’s Bazar-Ghundum rail-line in FY18.
Experts said that although these projects got Tk 17,121.24 crore, more than half of the total allocation of Tk 31,016.47 crore for the fast track projects, the rate of their implementation was still less than the expectation which would lead them to fall behind their deadlines.
The delayed implementation would also increase the costs of the projects, said former interim government adviser Mirza Azizul Islam.
As a result, the projects would not pay much higher dividend, he noted.
Until March, the Bangladesh Bridges Authority implemented 53 per cent of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project making progress by only 9 percentage points in nine months of the current financial year.
About 44 per cent work of the bridge was completed until June 2017 after it began in 2014.
The bridges authority is now facing an uphill task to complete remaining 47per cent work of the bridge construction by the present deadline of December set by road transport and highway minister Obaidul Quder after missing a number of deadlines.
A proposal from the bridges authority for further extension of the project
now awaits approval from the planning commission as the bridges authority is facing troubles to find out solid base for piling work in some 21 piers of the bridge, officials said.
On May 29, finance minister AMA Muhith expressed dissatisfaction with the falling implementation rate of the national budget caused mainly by slow implementation of the development projects.
He said that the government initiated many plans and programmes to enhance the implementation capacity but those were not yielding expected results.
‘For example, creation of a pool of potential project directors was yet to be readied,’ he said.
On May 22, the executive committee on the National Economic Council at a meeting increased the cost of Padma Bridge rail-link project by Tk 4257.94 crore to Tk 39258.13 crore from previous Tk 34988.8 crore, approved by ECNEC on May 3, 2016. The meeting also extended its completion deadline by two years to 2024.
Till now the Bangladesh Railway could not start the main work of the project because of delay in signing of the loan deal with Chinese EXIM Bank against the backdrop of bargain on the amount of the loan and its conditions.
EXIM Bank finally agreed to lend Tk 21,036 crore, instead of Tk 24,749 crore it promised earlier, to be repaid in 20 years with a fixed 2 per cent interest for laying the 225-kilometre rail lines on both sides of Padma bridge by China Railway Group Limited, officials said.
Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said that the less amount of loan led to the first revision of the project as Chinese bank disagreed with the land acquisition cost, which would finally be borne by the government.
He noted that land acquisition cost raised the project cost.
Overcoming initial hiccup following the killing of foreigners, including Japanese, in the attack on Holy Artisan Bakery, physical works of the Metro Rail has begun.
Dhaka Mass Transit Company managing director MAN Siddique said that works on different components of the projects were going on in full swing.
Physical progress of the Dohazari-Ramu-Cox’s Bazar-Ghundum rail-line project was only 5 per cent till March although the cost of the project already increased by 10 times the cost estimated when the project was taken in 2011, officials said.
They said that the project cost increased by Tk 16,182 crore for construction, land acquisition, physical contingency and price adjustment.
After the signing of a loan agreement with Asian Development Bank in 2016 for aid, the implementation of the project started in the current financial year.
Project director Md Mofizur Rahman said that currently physical work continued at Doahazari while lying of new rail track would begin in the current year.
Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power project, Payra Sea Port Construction, Sonadia Deep Sea Port, Maitree Super Thermal Power Project (Rampal) and Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal Construction projects are the other projects put on fast track.
Among them Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal at Moheshkhali is likely to be commissioned in FY18 after missing several deadlines.
In July 2016, Bangladesh signed a deal with the United States-based Excelerate to construct a floating LNG terminal with a capacity of producing 500mmcft gas.
There has been no allocation for Sonadia Deep Sea Port as the government has shelved the project reportedly on to political reason, officials said.

One Response to Fast-track projects to miss deadlines

  1. Siddique Ahmed

    It is normal that projects are taken up with proper study of its viability in respect of management, market, technical, financial, socioeconomic and environmental aspects and risk factors. Project viability corresponds to a critical implementation schedule. Any schedule failure will escalate the cost and offset the project viability in terms of Profitability, projected capital cost, ROI, BCR, IRR, socio-economic benefits etc. There should be contingency plan to save projects from achieving the goal. There should be guarantees and penalty against failure. The project management must bear the responsibility and should be penalized for failure. The government earns no money; projects are finally paid from revenue from people. They must be accountable and answerable. Political opposition should also be made responsible for failing to keep watch and alert people on what is happening with their money. Government put 10 mega projects on fast truck in 2014 of which Padma Bridge was on top priority. Former interim government adviser Mirza Azizul Islam alerts that delay will enhance cost and reduce dividends. About 44 per cent work of the bridge was completed until June 2017 after it began in 2014 and 9% in current year, balance 47% cannot be completed by present deadline of December 2018 after missing numbers of deadline. It seems government is shy of giving full accounts of the initial budget and completion schedule for all the 10 fast track projects, their schedule delay, cost escalation, new deadline. Padma Bridge rail completion deadline is extended by two years to 2024 but the work is yet to start. Physical progress of the Dohazari-Ramu-Cox’s Bazar-Ghundum rail-line project was only 5 per cent till March 2018, although the cost of the project already increased by 10 times the cost estimated when the project was taken in 2011. Though delayed from initial schedule, Dhaka MRT 6 has presently picked up speed. Of the several other plants Like Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power project, Payra Sea Port Construction, Sonadia Deep Sea Port, Maitree Super Thermal Power Project (Rampal), Karnaphuli River tunnel projects showed no sign of substantial progress. Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal at Moheshkhali is likely to be commissioned in FY18 after missing several deadlines. Sonadia Deep Sea Port has been shelved reportedly for political reason.

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