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Dhaka Tribune

Upazila health complex under construction for 17 years

Kader Siddiqui's firm was supposed to complete the construction work in 18 months, now it is seeking compensation

Update : 08 Jul 2023, 10:15 AM

It was supposed to be developed as a modern health complex to offer better service to the people.

But the contractor of the new building of Basail Upazila Health Complex in Tangail, which has failed to hand over the 18-month project in 17 years, is now demanding compensation to finish the work.

On top of that, M/S Sonar Bangla Engineering Company collected 70% of the bill in just one year after receiving the work order in September 2005. The firm showed 76% progress in the project, according to the Civil Surgeon Office.

Due to the firm's noncooperation, the work cannot be awarded to another contractor as per the rules. As a result, the Civil Surgeon Office cannot say when the work will be completed. 

The chairman of the firm, Bangabir Kader Siddiqui Bir Uttam, is a former Awami League lawmaker who later formed Krishak Sramik Janata League. He led a guerilla force called “Kaderia Bahini” during the 1971 Liberation War.

The delay is causing serious trouble to doctors and patients, but the contractor remains nonchalant on the issue of compensation. The equipment allocated for the new building is also being wasted in the store room.

Being deprived of medical services for years, locals have staged protests and submitted written complaints to the authorities, but the contractor did not budge an inch. Meanwhile, the abandoned buildings are occupied by drug addicts and criminals.

Currently, there are doctors as per the rules of a 50-bed health complex. But even if there are doctors, seating cannot be arranged for them to see patients. Due to a lack of room, advanced equipment cannot be installed. 

Doctors and public representatives said the people of the upazila would benefit a lot if the construction is completed.

In 2005, the then-government decided to increase the capacity of the Upazila Health Complex from 31 beds to 50 beds. The tender was called on January 10 of that year. M/S Sonar Bangla Engineering Company got the job of constructing the infrastructure of the project and renovating the old single-storey building of the health complex. 

The work order was given on September 24, 2005. As per the terms, the work was to be completed within 18 months, or by April 23, 2007. 

According to the tender, two four-storey, one two-storey and one one-storey buildings were to be constructed and the old buildings were renovated for Tk4.96 crore. The contractor withdrew Tk3.40 crore by September 26, 2006, showing that the work was in progress. 

The contractor has claimed that 76% of the work has been completed so far.

Authorities in dilemma 

Upazila Parishad Chairman Kazi Alid Islam said: "I have gone to the health minister several times regarding the issue. Senior authorities also visited the health complex. But the work has not started.”

Former upazila vice chairman Sultana Ruby said it is necessary to finish the work of the health complex quickly to ensure the medical services of the residents. “I have tried various means on the issue. When the construction work is completed, the people of nearby upazilas will benefit besides Basail.”

The upazila health and family planning officer, Dr Shirley Hamid, said that she has talked with the higher authorities and the local lawmaker about finding ways to finish the work. 

"The health complex was visited by senior officials of the Directorate General of Health Services. A new budget has been allocated to complete the work but it will have to be returned as the contractor has yet to hand over the project,” she said.

Local Member of Parliament Md Joaherul Islam said: “I am also taking care of the issue. The contractor is saying that they will finish the work. We are watching with importance. But nothing is happening in reality.”

Asked when the work will be completed, Civil Surgeon Dr Md Minhaj Uddin Mia said: “The higher authorities sat with Bangbir Kader Siddiqui for not completing the work. He said that he had suffered loss in doing the work and demanded compensation for this. He said he would complete the work if compensation is paid. 

“Now, we are unable to resume the construction through a re-tender if the contractor does not follow the rules. So, I cannot say when the work will be completed.”

To inquire about this, this reporter contacted the firm's engineer, Farid Hossain, on his phone but did not get any answer.

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