Building roads and bridges in the public sector is likely to cost the government more in the future days as a move is underway to revise upward the prices of construction materials, sources said.
The cost of construction of physical infrastructures like roads and bridges in Bangladesh is one of the highest in the world.
Knowledgeable sources said the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) already decided in principle to prepare a new schedule of rates - the schedule helps the RHD assess the estimated costs of projects.
The latest schedule of rates was prepared in the year 2015 and the previous one in 2011.
Officials said that though there is no hard and fast rule to update the schedule of rates, it is usually done in a gap of three to four years.
Sources said the latest move to update the schedule of rates for construction materials is linked to yet another move to adjust the high construction cost of the Dhaka-Sylhet four-lane project in accordance with the proposal put forward by the relevant Chinese contractor.
The RHD had been in discussions with the Chinese contractor for nearly one year, sources said, but it could not accept the costs proposed by the latter.
However, the RHD dismissed the allegation about the influence of the Chinese contractor, saying that it took the decision on rescheduling the rates due to hike in prices of different construction materials, including bitumen, stones, sands, wage of labourers and cost of technical services.
"We feel the need for the changes in rates under the prevailing circumstances," chief engineer Hasan Ibne Alam said. He said a committee will be formed soon to review the market prices and recommend the rates for next couple of years.
He also rejected the claim about the high per-km construction cost of RHD projects.
RHD signed the contract with China Harbor Engineering Company Limited on October 9 in 2016 to upgrade the Dhaka-Sylhet Highway into a four-lane one.
Till date, the department could not adjust the price proposed by the company with its estimated cost which was made on the basis of 2011 rate schedule. The department later adjusted the cost in accordance with the 2015 rates.
The Chinese company proposed to construct the 226-kilometre highway from Kanchpur to Sylhet at an estimated cost of around Tk 170 billion.
But the RHD had estimated the cost at around Tk 90 billion, which was increased to Tk 120 billion following the rates revised rate in 2015.