The 190km Elenga-Hatikumrul-Rangpur four-lane highway project is set to see a big jump in its cost mainly thanks to faulty planning and design by the consulting firm.
Not only that, a move is on to revise the important road project to extend its time by 4.5 more years as well even though the existing August 2021 deadline is yet to end.Road transport and bridges ministry has placed the scheme’s first revision proposal to the Planning Commission seeking Tk 46.98 billion or 39 percent cost hike along with time extension, official sources said.
The project was designed by Australian consulting firm SNEC, but faults in project planning and design were detected after the start of construction work under different packages.
Even, tender for package no 5 out of 8 could not be floated in nearly four years of project launch from September 2016 as the package value was estimated according to 2015 rate schedule, planning commission officials informed.
“I can speak little about project faults as I’ve taken the charge of project director from May. Most of the faults occurred earlier. There was problem of land acquisition as well,” commented project director Md Waliur Rahman.
“The project is being revised to widen the separate lane for slow-moving traffic is some places in line with a long-term plan so that the pressure of markets doesn’t affect the traffic movement on the highway,” Waliur, also additional chief engineer of Roads and Highways Department (RHD), the implementing agency added.
The project was approved in early September in 2016 at an estimated cost of Tk 118.99 billion in a bid to ease road link between Dhaka and northern region and improve regional connectivity with India and Bhutan.It is being implemented as part South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) road connectivity initiative of Asian Development Bank.
The lender is providing Tk 93.55 billion to the scheme while the rest of the money is being provided from the state coffer.
The highway is being aligned with SASEC-4 and 9, Asian highway-2, BIMSTEC-2 and SAARC highway corridor-4.
Out of the eight packages, contracts for seven packages were signed for completing the work after 36 months. But the work has so far progressed only 15 percent.
Contract prices for the ongoing seven packages have been proposed to be raised to Tk 57.96 billion from Tk 47.33 billion, planning commission officials informed.
Although work of package no 5 has not yet started, its cost is going up by nearly Tk 2.44 billion due to adjustment to the old rate schedule. The cost of constructing an interchange at Hatikumrul has also been proposed to be raised by Tk 4.49 billion. Besides, three more flyovers and 20 culverts have been included in the project and underpasses are also being widened.
Land acquisition cost and rehabilitation cost are going up by Tk 24.80 billion and Tk 7.33 billion respectively as the project requires 97 hectares fresh land acquisition. The cost for setting up road operation unit will shoot up to Tk 1.11 billion. According to the revision proposal, total project cost stands at Tk 165.97 billion including Tk 115.60 billion ADB loan. The project’s new completion deadline will be December 2024.
The construction cost of per-kilometer four-lane road is rising to Tk 871.7 million in line with new proposal, which was Tk 624.9 million earlier.
Of the proposed revised cost, cost of project consultation is going up to Tk 5.65 billion, which was originally estimated at Tk 3.76 billion.
In a recent evaluation meeting, the planning commission has raised question regarding the high cost estimate for land acquisition and consultant fees. It also requested the implementing agency to rationalize some project cost, official sources said. “The consultation fee is going up as the consultants have to spend more time on project site as volume of work is increasing,” the project director also said.