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BRT project cost doubles

Increase in budgets for all components cited as reason

February 25, 2018 00:00:00

Munima Sultana

Cost of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project has more than doubled due to an increase in budgets for its all components, sources said.

They said Roads and Highways Department (RHD), leading implementing agency of the project, has already revised the development project proposal (DPP), showing a significant increase in costs from consultancy to procurement stages.

"Cost of some components such as salary for the project staff and land acquisition etc has increased more than double," said a source.

For this, he said, revision of the project titled "Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport (GDSUT)" has been necessary within three years after the first revision in July 2015.

According to the latest revision, the total cost of the project has been fixed at Tk 44.41 billion, up by Tk 24.04 billion from earlier DPP.

The first revised DPP fixed the project cost at Tk 20.39 billion with the completion target by December 2018.

Now the tenure of the project has been extended to June 2020. In the original DPP approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in 2012, the project was scheduled to be completed by December 2016.

Sources said though the project office has awarded the works of all four packages starting from December 2016, it has been able to achieve only 18 per cent progress as of January.

Only Tk 3.7 billion was spent during the period.

But except for depot development work, progress in all works is slow, sources said.

But official sources said cost and time of the GDSUT project was revised in accordance with the contracts signed with the contractors. All the contracts will expire after 2019.

They said the versatile project work needs time to ensure best coordination with three other state agencies - Bangladesh Bridge Authority, Local Government Engineering Department and Public Works Department.

Under the strategic transport plan for  greater Dhaka city, RHD took the BRT project to develop a 20.5-kilometre BRT corridor from Gazipur to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport for establishing a bus-based mass transit system.

According to the DPP, 20,000 passengers are likely to cross the corridor uninterrupted in an hour after establishment of the BRT line, now known as BRT-3.

Under the GDSUT project, 20-kilometre dedicated bus lane, 4.5-km elevated bus lane, 10-lane Tongi bridge, seven flyovers, one bus terminal, 113 access road development and 24-km drainage system on both sides from Joydevpur crossing to Turag River will be developed.

Besides, the project is to buy modern articulated buses, set up intelligent transport system and carry out programme to compensate the owners and workers of buses now operating on the corridor.

The project was funded by Asian Development Bank, Agence Francaise de Development and Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The latest revised DPP was sent to the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges (MoRTB) for taking necessary actions.

The MoRTB recently sat with the steering committee to review proposed increase in the costs, sources said, adding that the steering committee approved the changes.

The meeting was informed that the total cost of the project goes up by 117 per cent. But in some cases, cost increases by more than 400 per cent.

According to the proposed revision, procurement cost of buses and manpower to operate those surged 612 per cent due to an increase in the number of buses from 50 to 110.

Cost of land acquisition was shown to go up by 450 per cent. According to DPP, Tk 660 million shown in the original DPP in 2012 was not matched with the latest land prices and compensation rate for land owners.

Besides, a significant increase in salary for project staff was proposed on the grounds of an extension of the project tenure and introduction of new pay scale.

The project director said the steering committee has approved the DPP and it will soon be sent to the Planning Commission for getting nod.

He, however, claimed that the project work is going on smoothly.

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