A rare and welcome instance

Authorities of a project under the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) have proposed building 10 more bridges under their ongoing-project as they were able to save Tk 286 crore so far.

The Western Bangladesh Bridges Improvement Project, under which 81 bridges are now being built with Japanese finances, sent the proposal to the RHD's Chief Engineer's Office last week, officials said.

The RHD would sent the proposal to financing agency -- JICA -- for formal approval, they said.

Meanwhile, the project authorities have already identified and selected 10 bridges that require replacement, they added.

"When the [faulty] procurement process under different projects have been hogging newspaper headlines lately, this example of saving project money is definitely praiseworthy," Obaidul Quader, road transport and bridges minister, yesterday said.

He said this after revealing that Tk 286 crore have been saved so far in the WBBIP, while talking to project officials at a virtual meeting. Road Transport and Bridges Division Secretary Nazrul Islam and RHD's Chief Engineer Quazi Shahriar Hossain, among others, took part the meeting.

Quader mentioned two other RHD projects for which total costs were reduced. He said more than Tk 1,000 crore was saved in a project under which three new bridges were constructed and three old bridges on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway were repaired.

Tk 220 crore was saved in a project under which the third bridge on Karnaphuli was constructed, he added.


In October 2015, the government took the WBBIP to build 61 bridges in 26 western districts aiming for safe, reliable and efficient transportation for people and goods.

Funded by JICA, the project was scheduled to be completed under five packages between October 2015 and June 2020 at the cost of Tk 2,911.75 crore.

But last year, 21 more bridges were added to the project, resulting in an extension of the deadline till June 2022, a project official said. However, the project cost remains same as the construction of one major bridge in Narsingdi was dropped and its budget was repurposed for the 21 smaller bridges.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated 25 in Khulna, Barishal and Gopalganj zones on March 12, which were under packages three, four and five, he said. The works of packages one and two are now undergoing and have been 80 percent completed.

The project authority in July signed two contracts for building the 21 bridges under a sixth package.

Asked, Project Director Abdus Sabur said changes in the currency rate (Japanese Yen vs Tk) was main reason behind the save. "Besides, we have saved money from the contract cost and contingency cost," he told The Daily Star yesterday.


Abdus Sabur, also an additional chief engineer of RHD, said they have already submitted a proposal to the Chief Engineer's Office in regards to building 10 more bridges with the saved money.

"JICA has given verbal consent to our proposal. Now, the RHD would sent the formal proposal and once JICA approves that, it would be sent to the ministry."

Obaidul Quader yesterday directed the authority concerned to complete the procedure regarding the 10 bridges as soon as possible. He also asked them to complete the works of other bridges within their given deadlines.

Md Rucunuzzaman, project manager-2 of WWBIP, said analysing the procurement cost of the latest contracts, they came to the decision that they would be able to build around an 850-metre bridge with the saved money.

"So we have selected 10 bridges with the total length of 842 metres," he told The Daily Star yesterday.

He said the bridges, mostly bailey bridges and narrow bridges, were selected from the areas where they are now implementing package-6 to make their works easy and they are hopeful to complete the additional work, if approved, within the current deadline.

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