FE Today Logo

Dhaka-Mawa four-lane project cost to swell 70pc

Agencies push for revision at mid-point

FHM Humayan Kabir | April 22, 2018 00:00:00

The ongoing Dhaka-Mawa 4-lane road project is going to be the costliest one as the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry has brought significant changes in the design of the highways, officials said Wednesday.

Officials said since the state-run Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and the Bangladesh Army -- the implementing agencies -- have brought changes in the design of the road project, it will require 69 per cent hike in cost than the originally estimated at Tk 62.52 billion.

An economist has raised question about the big revision, swelling the cost of the 55 kilometre-long Dhaka-Mawa and Pacchor-Bhanga highway project in the country.

After revision of the design, the construction cost of one kilometre road will amount to Tk 1.92 billion, one of the highest in the world.

In contrast, the construction cost of one km road under the 192km Dhaka-Chittagong highway was roughly one-tenth to Tk 198.75 million.

The Dhaka-Chittagong 4-lane road construction project was completed in December 2016.

The road ministry has recently sought revision of the Dhaka-Mawa and Pacchor-Bhanga road development project proposal, asking for Tk 105.43 billion funds, a 68.62 per cent higher than its original Tk 62.52 billion for building the highway.

Planning Commission (PC) has raised its objection to the design changes and recommended examining the proposal.

"Now it is easy to assume that the feasibility study for the scheme was faulty resulting in cost hike at the middle stage of its execution," said a senior government official.

The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and the Bangladesh Army are building the road to connect the country's impoverished south-western region and to facilitate cross-border transport corridor with India.

Economist Mirza Azizul Islam said that the corruption and lack of accountability are the main reasons for the unusual cost hike, time overrun, changing of the design of the project at the middle stage.

The government high-ups should go for tough action against such misdeeds and corruption by the project implementing agencies and the persons involved, he told the FE.

A senior Planning Commission official said: "The implementing agency has brought major changes in the project design at the last stage, which is questionable. They have revised many segments and added fresh elements to the approved project."

Besides, the implementing agency also violated some procurement rules and regulation of the country, he told the FE requesting anonymity.

According to the revised proposal, the implementing agency has added a 2.33km flyover from Teghoria to Babubazar (Dhaka city), a new bridge over the Kumar River, additional pavement construction work, utility shifting work, incidental costs and building of diversion road afresh.

Changes in the design of the approved toll-plaza, railway over-pass, embankment management, and protection work on the both sides of the highways are other proposals.

Besides, it has proposed changing the construction materials like replacing stone-chips with the brickbats, extension of earthen work, land acquisition and compensation to the victims and increase in the number of consultants, officials said.

Project insiders said the implementing agency had given work order to a contractor with higher cost than the official estimate, which is also one of the reasons for revising the project.

"The implementing agencies have not maintained the RHD rate-schedule for the construction materials. They have given work order to the contractor with higher cost than the official estimates. Now the agencies are seeking approval through the revision of the DPP. It's a clear violation of the procurement rules," said a project insider.

Meanwhile, another commission official said as per the government's allocation of business, the Bridges Division is assigned to construct the flyover, which is 1.50km long or above.

"But the inclusion of the 2.33 km-long flyover afresh with the project and its construction by the RHD or Bangladesh Army is also violation of the rules. So we have asked the ministry to clarify the issue," he added.

The implementing agency has decided to increase the length of the railway overpass from the existing 2,800 metres to 4,444 metres bringing changes in the design of DPP, sought Tk 3.576 billion extra funds for 12.22 million cubic metres earth work, Tk 387.22 billion additional funds for 5.23 million cubic feet of earth work for strengthening the road, Tk 5.75 billion additional funds for building 7.0km pavements, and Tk 12.39 billion extra funds for 206241.06 metres of foundation work of the highways.

The implementing agency has also proposed keeping aside Tk 1.02 billion (1.0pc of the total project cost) fund as physical contingency and Tk 20.47 billion (2.0 per cent of the total cost) as the price contingency in the revise the proposal.

The commission is now scrutinising the proposal for the revision according to the desire of the ministry.

The Dhaka-Mawa highway is expected to be completed by June next year.

[email protected]

Share if you like