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Cross-border road project

JICA frets over delay in land acquisition

Munima Sultana | Published: June 25, 2019 10:37:09 | Updated: June 26, 2019 17:48:54


A delay in acquiring the land for the cross-border road network improvement project has disappointed its Japanese financier.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has expressed its concern over the slow pace of the project's implementation although all the contract packages have been completed.

JICA in separate letters to Prime Minister's Office and Road Transport and Bridges Ministry pointed out that six months have already elapsed due to the delay in land acquisition.

A Tk 36.84-billion project was taken in 2016 to improve road connectivity with border areas for establishing link with international corridor including Asian Highway-1 (AH-1).

Under the project, some bridges on Jashore-Benapole road and Chattogram-Cox's Bazar road would be rebuilt with six lanes along with the construction of Kalna Bridge over the River Modhumati.

Of them, Kalna, Jhikargacha, Matamuhuri and Shangu bridges are on major economic corridors.

Sources said Roads and Highways Department (RHD) started work on all four packages during the period between September and November last year.

But JICA in the letter signed by its Senior Representative Yoshibumi Bito alleged that RHD's failure to hand over encumbrance-free land to the contractors may lead to cost and time overrun of the project.

According to the project office, around 50 acres of land will need to be acquired for implementing the project.

RHD officials said there is no reason for a delay in the construction work. The contractors are working on the areas where no land acquisition is required.

They, however, claimed that the deputy commissioner's office is dragging its heels over handing over free land to the contractors.

JICA also sought intervention and monitoring of the PMO and the ministry through the director general of the sub-regional cooperation cell and secretary to speed up the process of land acquisition.

RHD, the national road network developer, has a tradition of delay in completing land acquisition although officials have claimed that they hand over required budget for the purposes much before respective project's commencement.

Due to the reason, the government has taken a decision to complete the land acquisition process under a separate project for speeding up the construction work. The order in this regard was issued in 2016.

But sources said land acquisition of the cross-border project was not separated.

A delay in completing land acquisition process is seen in the RHD's new projects including SASEC-II. Though tenders for 10 package works of SASEC-II were completed, the RHD is yet to hand over the land to the contractors.

RHD officials blamed the deputy commissioner's office for the delay in handing over the land.

smunima@yahoo.com

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