• Monday, Jan 20, 2020
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A decade fly by, yet NILMRC construction floats in thin air

  • Published at 12:10 am October 23rd, 2019
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses an Ecnec meeting at National Economic Council (NEC) Bhaban of the Planning Ministry at Agargaon in Dhaka on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 PID

Ecnec approves fifth extension on Tuesday

A health ministry project to establish a National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre (NILMRC) which was approved in July 2010 has not completed in 2019. 

Its construction deadline was extended for the fourth time previously, at a higher cost to adjust to inflation, while the ministry sought another extension until June 2020.

Therefore, Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has approved the fifth time extension of the deadline, without any increase in project cost. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the Ecnec meeting onTuesday.

Secretary to the health service division, Md Asadul Islam, is still doubtful about completion of the work by next June, as the contractor of the NILMRC construction was GK Builders, a firm that is owned by detained Jubo League leader GK Shamim.  

"Though it is at the final stages of completion. It is not yet ready for use. Completion of work by GK Shamim's firm has emerged as the main challenge now," Asadul Islam told Dhaka Tribune last night.

Reports say some 17 government projects involving a total cost of around Tk 3000 crore are in the hands of GK Builders, which awaits implementation.

While explaining the question regarding unusual delay in completing the NILMRC construction, the health secretary said: "First three years went for land procurement; another year was lost due to  litigations by locals over the land ownership, as a result the project finally started in 2013." 

Meanwhile, the initial target of project completion was within 2013, when the project actually started its physical journey in the capital's Agargaon area. Afterwards, the project's cost went up by Tk 56.19 crore from Tk 138.13 crore to Tk 194.32 crore, due to the delay. 

The delay, and higher cost both needed to obtain approval of the Ecnec in phases. 

To defend the prayer for a fifth extension, the project implementing ministry/agency mentioned several reasons including non-completion of purchase of the institution's required equipment and machinery, non-approval on recruitment of manpower, non-installment of machinery which in on the way to import, lack of security at the building as it is still unfinished.

The current fiscal's budget earmarks Tk 30 crore allocation for the project.