Sylhet rural electrification in limbo

Hasibul Aman

2 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

A rural electrification project in Sylhet is likely to face further delay as the implementation body has sought time extension.

Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) has sought six months of time extension to complete work, sources at the Planning Commission said.

Eighty nine percent of the project’s physical work has so far been complete, the sources added.

If approved, this will be the second time of such revision.

Expansion of rural electrification and developing physical infrastructure project worth Tk 14.17 billion was approved in May 2016 aimed at expanding Sylhet division’s rural electricity distribution network and enhance infrastructure facilities at BREB divisional headquarters in Sylhet.

The project was supposed to be completed by December 2018.

In April 2019, the planning ministry approved a proposal to extend the project time to December 2020. The project cost was also modestly cut to Tk 14.01 billion.

 As per the extension, the project’s revised time expired in December last year.

Although the revision proposal should be placed at the planning commission three months before the expiry date, this time it was placed just 11 days before.

Under the second revision proposal, the project will be completed by June 2021.

As per the proposal, the cost will also be cut to Tk 13.18 billion.

So far, an amount of Tk 12.27 billion or 87.54 percent of approved project money has been spent.

Although the first revision approved the procurement of two jeeps at Tk 8 million each, the BREB has purchased a jeep spending nearly Tk 10 million.

In reply to a query of the planning commission regarding this, the project director said they purchased it from the state-run Pragati Industries Ltd that has increased the jeep’s price.

In the revision proposal, the BREB seeks to lower the volume of residential building construction work in its divisional headquarters. It now wants to construct five-storey building on eight-storey foundation instead of the eight-storey building on 15-storey foundation. 

BREB chairman Major General (retd) Moin Uddin said that there was no need of constructing an eight storey building given the size of the current workforce at the complex. 

The volume of residential building construction work has been proposed to be reduced to 2,125 square meters instead of 2,746 square meters. However, the cost of the work will go up by Tk 14.6 million.

The planning commission has sought to know whether the estimate of the residential complex has been made with proper assessment of existing workforce.

On the other hand, the cost of other public works, that include constructing internal roads, boundary walls, gates, security posts, master drains, sewerage system, store yards, power and gas facilities, will also increase up by Tk 56.2 million to Tk 94.2 million from the originally approved Tk 38 million.

 About this cost hike, the project director informed that the original project proposal estimated the cost in 2016 in line with 2014 public works rate schedule, which remained unchanged in the first revision.

The tender of the public works was floated in 2019 in line with PWD’s 2018 rate schedule.

BREB chairman said the cost was rising because of more piling work as required in the consultant’s design.