Dev pace slow save Padma bridge

Jahangir Shah | Update:

Padma BridgeNo visible progress has been made in implementing major infrastructure projects excepting Padma bridge in the past three years despite the importance spelt out in ruling Awami League's manifesto of development.

According to records of the government's 'fast track' projects, about 40 per cent of the Padma bridge project has been completed while work of most of big infrastructure projects is yet to start.

The AL manifesto named a few projects such as a 1,300-megawatt coal-based power plant, a CNG terminal centre, the Paira deep sea port, Sonadia deep sea port, Dhaka-Cox's Bazar railway link, and Dhaka-Mongla railway link.

Some of the projects were undertaken before the 2014 elections and some after the one-sided ballot that brought the AL back to power.

There are 10 projects considered as 'fast track' projects which are directly looked after by the prime minister's office with coordination from the Economic Relations Division (ERD).

Additional secretary of the ERD Farida Nasrin said progress on the Padma bridge project has been significant and officials of concerned ministries have been asked at relevant meetings to accelerate the work.

A guideline has already been prepared on how to quickly implement these projects, she added.

Appreciating some big infrastructure projects, former caretaker govenment adviser Mirza AB Azizul Islam said, once implemented, these projects will attract more investment. "The entire economy will be benefitted," he pointed out.

It is apprehended that the slow pace of implementation of such projects would increase the cost of the projects.

Even the cost of Padma bridge construction, a project which was undertaken in 2009 and revised a few times, has stood at Tk 287 billion and Tk 122 billion has been spent so far.

Also, it has not been possible to spend the amount earmarked in every budget in the past three years. official records suggest. The bridge is supposed to be completed by 2018.

In the AL election manifesto, Rooppur nuclear plant was a major focus and the cost of its main power plant has been estimated at Tk 133 billion, as endorsed by the government's highest policymaking body, executive committee of the national economic council.

The work of Matarbari coal-based power plant at a cost of Tk 360 billion began in 2014 but other than land acquisition nothing has been done as yet.

Overn the past three years, the main work of LNG terminal in Chittagong could not be started. A contract for the terminal has been signed only recently with a US company.

The Paira deep sea port project was undertaken at an estimated cost of Tk 112 billion in 2015. Land acquisition and warehouse construction are yet to completed but the port has begun some activities based on earlier infrastructure.

The much-talked about Sonadia deep sea port is supposed to be built on the basis of public-private partnership contract. Dhaka, however, has a decision to make it through government-to-government contract.

 

*The report, originally published in Bangla print version, is rewritten in English by Khawaza Main Uddin.

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