The progress of the Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane project, the Awami League government’s priority initiative, was “not satisfactory,” a parliamentary team has concluded.
A five-member delegation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Road Transport and Bridges Ministry, headed by its chairman Ekabbar Hossain, observed that at best 60% of the 192km road upgradation works had been finished as of September 13.
The parliamentary panel that visited the construction sites in September placed its findings yesterday at the meeting of the watchdog, also concluding that the project cost had gone up for extending the project duration twice.
“This (two time extensions) has led to the increase in the project cost. This has been causing economic burden on the people,” reads the report which has been obtained by the Dhaka Tribune.
The standing committee accepted the report and referred it to the ministry for expediting the construction work and finishing the project “as soon as possible.”
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, also a member of the committee, attended the meeting but left the venue early because of other obligations. He, however, assured the watchdog that his ministry would do everything possible to finish the project early.
The minister had previously told the parliament that the project would end by December 2014.
Meanwhile, the report said the ministry should maintain close touch with the contractors and monitor the works extensively.
“Actions in line with the agreement could be taken against the contractors failing to act according to the agreement,” it recommended, adding that completion of the project would allow people to travel between Dhaka and Chittagong without traffic jam.
In 2006, the BNP-led government initiated the project to make the two-lane Dhaka-Chittagong highway – the lifeline of Bangladesh’s export-import activities – into four-lane, as increased traffic movement caused huge tailbacks that led to people’s sufferings.
The construction work for upgrading the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, on which at least 80% trade activities depend, started in 2010.
At the outset, the project cost was fixed at Tk2,382 crore; but two time extensions increased the cost to Tk3,190 crore.
Change of consultants, intervention of the local ruling party leaders in the land filling works, removal of tombs, mosques, temples and educational institutions were some of the reasons behind the delays.