Bangladesh is going to raise the issue of non-payment by a Russian sub-contractor which worked on the Rooppur nuclear power plant project in a review meeting of the project's top-level management this week.
“The Russian team will arrive in Bangladesh on Monday and will visit the project site on Tuesday before attending the meeting at a city hotel on Wednesday,” Rooppur power plant project Director Mohammad Shawkat Akbar told the Dhaka Tribune on Saturday.
A Bangladeshi sub-contractor, seeking anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Work at the power plant site is still suspended because of non-payment of dues by Russian company Goldenberg, which was the appointed by JSC Atomstroyexport, the project's main contractor.”
After discrepancies were found on Goldberg's work, the company was terminated from their duties, but they left Bangladesh without paying the dues to the Bangladeshi sub-contractors that worked under the company, he said. “This issue frustrated the workers and they have stopped working at the project site.”
“Such irregularity from a Russian sub-contractor under leading contractors like Atomstroyexport is the first of its kind in Bangladesh. The implementation of this project is at stake because of this,” he added.
The meeting – the second meeting of the joint coordination committee for the project – will take place at a hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday and will be attended by the high-ups from the Ministry of Science and Technology and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) as well as officials from the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia.
Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman will lead the Bangladesh side, while Rosatom's Deputy Director General for International Relations Nikolai Spasskiy will lead the Russian side in the meeting, a ministry official said yesterday.
Earlier, in separate meetings with the Bangladeshi sub-contractors, Atomstroyexport informed them that Goldenberg was terminated from their duties due to their negligence in supervision activities, said a sub-contractor who attended the meeting.
Atomstroyexport also appointed another Russian company named Inter RAO as a sub-contractor in Goldberg's place.
“Atomstroyexport also informed Bangladeshi sub-contractors that they would not get the full amount of money agreed up when the deals were signed. The company, however, failed to give any logical explanation as to why,” the sub-contractor said, requesting anonymity.
“Frustrated by this, the Bangladeshi sub-contractors decided to place a memorandum before Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman.”
Atomstroyexport gave the work of land filling to Goldenberg, which engaged some local companies in doing the land filling work on their behalf but never paid the due bills.
As a result, the local companies halted operations and refrained from further work.
If an incompetent company works on such a sophisticated project, it would be a matter of risk for the whole country, a Bangladeshi official involved with the project told the Dhaka Tribune.
The meeting will also discuss the role of Atomstroyexport in the project, as the Russian contractor is not cooperating with Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) – and not paying any heed to suggestions and recommendations made by the BAEC – which indicates substantial concern about future of the whole project.
On December 25 last year, Bangladesh and Russia signed a general contract for the construction and commissioning of Rooppur power plant in Pabna at a cost of $12.65 billion.
The BAEC, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is in charge of implementing the project.
The project's joint coordination committee was formed in 2014 under the framework of the inter-governmental agreement between Bangladesh and Russia concerning the cooperation in nuclear power plant construction in Bangladesh. The agreement was signed on November 2, 2011.
First meeting of the joint coordination committee was held on July 22-23, 2014 in Moscow.
In the upcoming meeting, the parties will also discuss the entire set of issues of the cooperation in construction of the nuclear power plant. The objective of the meeting is to review plans for implementation of general contract for the plant construction.
Bangladesh expects to add 2,400MW of electricity to the national grid by 2023 from the nuclear power plant.