Govt in a hurry to take up Rohingya rehab projects at higher cost

Pressure on PC to endorse those

FHM Humayan Kabir | Published: September 25, 2018 09:41:02 | Updated: September 25, 2018 17:14:18

Rohingya refugees look out from a shelter in Cox's Bazar — Reuters file photo used for representational purpose

The government is in a hurry to take up some Rohingya rehabilitation projects in Cox's Bazar even with higher-than-standard cost estimations, officials said on Monday.

They said some government agencies had already sought approval to go ahead with some development projects for the rehabilitation of about 1.0 million Rohingyas, now stranded in the country's southern district Cox's Bazar.

Development analysts said the government is going to spend millions of US dollars on rehabilitation of more than 1.0 million Rohingyas which could prompt them to stay in Bangladesh permanently.

As Bangladesh is already overburdened with its own population, they said, it will be difficult for the government to provide facilities to more than 1.0 million Rohingya people.

The Power Division, Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) sent three separate projects for rehabilitating Rohingyas to the Planning Commission (PC) within a span of last three to four weeks, officials said.

They are now putting pressure on the PC to endorse those projects on an emergency basis, the officials added.

A senior official at the PC said the LGED has sent a Tk 2.70 billion project for constructing RCC road and school-cum-shelters at Rohingya camps. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will finance the project.

"The cost of each of the school-cum-shelters and for constructing one kilometre of RCC roads seems to be much higher than standard cost," he told the FE seeking anonymity.

He added: "The unit cost of the RCC road as well as the shelter in some ongoing projects in Bangladesh is much lower. However, the LGED has proposed higher unit cost of the construction work."

For example, for building one km RCC road in Bangladesh requires some Tk 11 million, but the LGED has proposed Tk 21 million for building road inside the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar.

Besides, a government agency is building the school-cum-cyclone shelter at a Tk 31.4 million unit cost in the coastal districts, but the LGED has proposed Tk 50 million for each of the shelters for the Rohingya people, the official added.

The Rural Electrification Board (REB) has sought approval for a Tk 983.2 million project in the Rohingya camp area.

With the financial support of ADB, the REB will install 50 narrow grids, nearly 4,000 solar-based streetlights and 2,000 road lights with conventional energy and distribute some 70,000 retained heat cookers among the Rohingya families in Cox's Bazar.

"The REB is putting pressure on the PC to approve the project within a shortest possible time," said another official at the PC.

The RHD has sought a Tk 4.58 billion Cox's Bazar-Teknaf road upgradation project with a view to establishing smooth communications with the Rohingya camps in Teknaf area.

"The government road developer is also putting pressure on us that they need approval of the project for ensuring the better connection with the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar," said another PC official.

Former Dhaka University economics teacher Dr MA Taslim, said if the government develops infrastructures and provides more facilities inside the camps, there is a possibility that the Rohingya people would stay longer.

"I don't know what the political stand of the government is? It should work for repatriating Rohingyas to their own country --Myanmar -- rather than rehabilitating them here with providing more facilities," he added.


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