Monday, 28 November, 2022

Lack of Feasibility Study

Medical college project lingers

A three-year project to set up a medical and nursing college in Gopalganj has been lingering for years for lack of a feasibility study.

The implementing agency could not fully implement the “Establishment of Sheikh Sayera Khatun Medical College & Hospital and Nursing College” project launched in early 2012 even after six time extensions.

Now, it will take a total of 11.4 years apart from a major hike in cost, according to a fresh project revision proposal placed at the Planning Commission, official sources said. 

The original project cost was Tk 4.64 billion when it was first approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on 14 February2012 with a target to implement it from February 2012 to March 2015.

Later, the project cost was first raised to Tk 5.10 billion after the first revision of the project and to Tk 7.05 billion later. So far the project has seen 96 per cent progress.  

“Hospital equipment has been supplied and installed under 19 packages, while 37 out of 38 packages for the construction work have been complete so far,” Nasima Begum, a member of the socioeconomic infrastructure division of the Planning Commission, said.  “Time has been consumed by the procedure of cancellation the work orders and issuing new work orders for a package. The project revision has been recommended in consideration of properly finishing the rest of the work,” she explained.

The construction work faced a setback after the successors of the original contractor expressed an inability to carry out the work after the contractor died on June 13, 2020.

The work order was cancelled on December 22 last year and a new contractor was appointed. The implementing agency sought more time up to June 2023 to complete the unfinished work.

Health and family welfare ministry approved the first revision of the project, raising the project cost to Tk 5.10 billion because of a change in PWD’s rate schedule. It also extended time up to March 2016. 

Again the ministry extended the timeframe by 1.4 years to June 2017 without raising the project cost. The planning ministry extended the time by 2 years for construction of the fencing wall. 

The project received the approval for the second revision by Ecnec in early April 2018, which raised the project cost to Tk 7.05 billion to accommodate some new components and changes in the rate schedule. The project time was also extended to June 2020. 

On June 22 last year, the programming division of the Planning Commission again extended time until June this year for to help recoup the Covid-19 delay.  About the revisions behind, the ministry of health has said the work remained suspended for nearly three months during the Covid lockdown. 

Despite the resumption of work after the lockdown, the supply crunch of construction materials affected the project, it added.

“Now the feasibility study is a must for any project exceeding Tk 500 million costs. There were no such rules earlier,” Planning Minister MA Mannan said.

“Absence of feasibility study is one of the key reasons IMED has identified for the project delay. More caution should be taken from now on to avoid such problems,” he added.

Under the scheme, a medical college with 100 student admission capacity per year is being set up along with a 500-bed hospital to provide medicare to remote areas of Gopalganj and adjacent areas.

Besides, a nursing college with 125 student admission capacity is being set up.