Four years ago, the government approved a project to construct a container port on the Meghna river in Brahmanbaria’s Ashuganj at an estimated cost of Tk 1,293 crore.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) was supposed to complete the project by this December, but officials are now seeking two more years and an additional Tk 458 crore.
A proposal for revising the project, titled Establishment of Inland Container River Port at Ashuganj, is likely to be placed in the August 16 meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council.
Two other projects will be placed in the meeting for revisions.
Extension of project deadlines and requirement of additional funds have been so common in recent years that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed disappointment over the matter multiple times and ordered officials to come up with proper project plans.
According to the new proposal for the river port, the final “drawing-design” of the project has made more funds necessary. Besides, changes in the schedule of rates, layouts of different infrastructures, and ground improvement were among the other factors driving up the cost and time, mentioned the document.
The project aims to facilitate shipment of containers from ports in Chattogram, Mongla and other places. It will contribute to the economic development of the country and benefit regional and sub-regional trade, it added.
If approved, the total project cost would reach Tk 1,751 crore, of which the government will bear Tk 1,018.25 crore while the rest will come from an Indian line of credit.
Ashuganj was officially recognised as a river port in 2014. It was later classified as the port of call in the Inland Water Transport and Trade Protocol between Bangladesh and India.
TWO OTHER PROJECTS NEEDING REVISIONS
An extension of the deadline will be needed for a project called “Construction of road on the bank of River Karnaphuli from Kalurghat bridge to Chaktai Khal”.
With an estimated cost of Tk 2,275 crore, the project was taken up in July 2017. It was supposed to be complete by June 2020. It was already revised once with a two-year extension with no additional cost.
Chattogram Development Authority is implementing the project which aims at saving commercial and industrial areas and some major structures in the port city from floods and tidal surges.
Now, it is seeking an additional Tk 471 crore and another year, according to the planning ministry proposal.
The proposal said inclusion of new components like bus-bay, footbridge, pavement, approach road, slope protections and prefabricated vertical drains required more funds and time.
The other project titled “Printing Industrial City” was approved in January 2016 with an aim to relocate printing factories from the capital to a 50-acre property in Sirajdikhan, Munshiganj, at a cost of Tk 138 crore.
Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation was supposed to complete it by December 2018. The project already saw a three-year extension.
But the authorities are now seeking two more years and funds, taking the cost to Tk 264.55 crore, because several new components have been included in the plan.