Two eye-catching buildings at Agargaon in the capital are standing as a glaring example of how money is being wasted in the name of projects.
These buildings remained unused for about two years. One of these building is the “Daak Bhaban” of Bangladesh post office and the other is the “National Science and Technology Complex” of the science and technology ministry.
The concerned ministry and the department were so keen for the construction of these eye-catching buildings, but now they are not so interested in shifting their office there. The colours of these buildings have faded due to lack of maintenance and layers of dust can be seen on the walls. Nobody can say anything for sure as to when the authorities concerned will start using these buildings. However, the post-office and the ministry concerned are saying that they are waiting for the inauguration of these buildings.
The National Science and Technology Complex in Agargaon is behind the building of election commission. The construction work of this building started in 2014 and finished by 2019. A total of Tk 2.22 billion (222 crore) has been spent for the construction of this building.
The building was built to provide a platform for scientists in the country as well as to transfer the science and technology ministry from the secretariat. But after the construction of the building, the officials and employees of the ministry are not interested to go there.
Upon trying to find the reason behind the reluctance in moving into the newly constructed building, it was revealed that the officials and the employees of these two organisations fear that they will be detached from the secretariat if they move out from there. Their facilities centering the secretariat will be disrupted. On the other hand, one influential quarter of the ministry is worried about the distance from the secretariat to the Agargaon. It is because these officers and employees, who have become accustomed to working in the secretariat for a long time, do not want to take the hassle of going to Agargaon.
When asked about the reason for not moving into the new building, Anwar Hossain, secretary of the science and technology, told Prothom Alo, “We want the building to be officially inaugurated by the prime minister. But due to coronavirus, the schedule of the prime minister is not available. This is the reason for not shifting there.”
“We are trying to inaugurate the building as soon as possible,” he said, referring to the relocation of the office to the Pani Bhaban in Panthapath and the Tourism Corporation building in Agargaon.
At present, the headquarters of the Bangladesh Post Office is situated in the capital’s Gulistan, which is more renowned as the GPO (general post office) junction. The headquarters of the post office and the local post office are standing on a five-acre land near the Zero Point area in the capital. However, the post-office authorities fear that if they are shifted to the new building in Agargaon, they will lose their valuable land in Gulistan. The employees of the post-office even protested against the decision to move out and demonstrated a movement.
At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) held on 30 May 2018, prime minister Sheikh Hasina said that the vacant space in Gulistan would be turned into a greenery once the post office headquarters is shifted to Agargaon, so that the people of the area including Paltan and Motijheel can walk there.
Officials and employees of the post office have been in fear of losing the precious land in Gulistan since the declaration of the prime minister and they want the land to be under possession of the post office even after they move to the new building.
When asked, the director general of Bangladesh Post Office told Prothom Alo, “We are ready to give up 3 acres of the 4.79 acre land. But it is important to keep the GPO. We have informed the cabinet division about this.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation (IMED) of the planning ministry has termed the prolonged vacancy in the post office building as “unexpected”.
Speaking to Prothom Alo regarding this matter, post and telecommunication minister Mustafa Jabbar said, “We have asked the prime minister for time to inaugurate the building. Activity at the new building will commence on the day the prime minister inaugurates the building.”
However, this reporter could not get the access for inspecting the building. But the layers of dust on the walls of these buildings could be seen from outside. Some lights around the building have also been damaged.
Although the ministry and the post office authorities are saying the buildings could not be inaugurated due to the coronavirus situation in the country, the Water Development Board’s “Paani Bhaban” was inaugurated on 1 October at Panthapath in the capital.
The water development board shifted their office from Motijheel to this building. The building of the Tourism Corporation in Agargaon was also inaugurated on the same day. The office of the corporation was shifted from Mohakhali.
Professor Nazrul Islam, an urban planner, told Prothom Alo that constructing multi-storey buildings and leaving them empty is nothing but a waste of national resources. The national resources should not be left empty day after day. It is necessary to take initiative to solve the problem as soon as possible.