The Financial Express

Akhaura-Sylhet dual-gauge project

57 vehicles, fuel to eat up most budget!

| Updated: March 31, 2019 12:16:37

Representational photo — Collected Representational photo — Collected

The Bangladesh Railway (BR) would purchase 57 vehicles for a bloated Tk 157.05-billion project undertaken to convert a metre-gauge line into a dual-gauge one.

It has also proposed to spend Tk 4.72 billion alone for land acquisition, building embankment for rail track and resettlement work, insiders said on Friday.

The cost for embankment work for "conversion of metre-gauge (MG) track into dual-gauge (DG) one in Akhaura-Sylhet section," is much higher than other similar ongoing projects, they observed.

The persons familiar with the project said the state-run railway service provider has also proposed a hefty Tk 3.70 billion fund for hiring consultants.

It also proposed higher costs for foreign training, office rent, office furniture, residential and non-residential building construction and other purposes.

A senior official said the BR has arbitrarily picked Chinese contractor 'China Railway Bridge Engineering Bureau Group Company Limited' to upgrade the 176-kilometre railway line between Akhaura and Sylhet.

Insiders said the total unit cost for conversion of 176km Akhaura-Sylhet rail track is nearly seven times higher than a couple of similar ongoing projects.

The BR is working to set up a fresh DG track between Dhaka and Narayanganj which will require Tk 87.50 million for installing each kilometre track.

A 79km rail line construction cost between Iswardi and Dhalarchar, Pabna, will require only Tk 68.3 million per kilometre, but Akhaura-Laksham track installation will require Tk 248 million per kilometre.

Meanwhile, experts expressed reservations about single line construction for Akhaura-Sylhet section instead of double lines.

The officials said the prime minister directed to convert all rail tracks into double lines, but Akhaura-Sylhet MG line is reportedly being converted into a DG single line at Tk 157.05 billion.

Seeking anonymity, a BR official said: "They will only convert existing MG line into a DG one and repair weak sections from Akhaura to Sylhet."

It could be better if the authorities take a project to instal a double line on the existing alignment, he told the FE.

The BR proposed to purchase nine Jeeps, 19 double cabin pickups, five microbuses and eight motor bikes for consultants.

It also sought to buy four other jeeps, six double-cabin pickups, two microbuses and four motorbikes for the project implementation unit.

The BR has proposed to spend Tk 10.5 million funds for purchasing fuel and Tk 5.0 million for maintenance of the vehicles.

The project has kept aside Tk 50 million for foreign training, Tk 12.1 million for house rent, Tk 26.7 million for furniture and Tk 40.1 million for office maintenance.

It also reserved Tk 24 million for utility bill and maintenance and Tk 8.0 million for removing establishments at the end of the project.

The BR will spend Tk 91.80 billion or 57 per cent of the total cost for installing DG track and Tk 50.33 billion or 31 per cent for building bridges.

The remaining 12 per cent of the total cost would be spent for related work in the project.

When contacted, the BR director general was not available for comment.



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