Bangladesh Railway back at drawing board with projects

| Updated: April 17, 2022 16:03:46

Bangladesh Railway back at drawing board with projects

The Bangladesh Railway (BR) is still performing worse as 21 out of 33 investment projects are in the red line for its underperformance, officials said on Saturday.

An FE analysis finds that although the deadline for many projects end this June, the BR has failed to complete even half the work as of March 2022.

Even the state rail service is still to start a slew of projects. It now contemplates scrapping the projects keeping only the incomplete ones, railway insiders say.

The FE finds that progress in some big and mega projects are showing good results with maintaining a moderate execution rate until March.

The BR spent only 31.22 per cent of its total Tk 125.76-billion annual development programme (ADP) allocations for fiscal year (FY) 2021-22 on executing 35 investment and five technical assistance projects.

It has started implementing 33 investment projects while two fresh ones are yet to start.

The fast-track Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Ghundum rail line setup project-is due for completion by this June, but the FE finds only 35.70 per cent of its total outlay spent during the period in question.

Similarly, the BR is yet to start the Tk 26.59-billion 'Procurement of 70 metre-gauge diesel electric locomotives (first revised) project'.

The project was undertaken in July 2011.

When asked, a project official said as the locomotive procurement project was kept aside for bidder's financing, some complexity has emerged resulting in a delay in the project work.

The procurement of 200 metre-gauge passenger carriages has faced the same fate as the authorities are yet to start the physical work on it.

This project has also been set aside for bidder's financing as it was undertaken in July 2016.

Some 21 projects, most of them planned for completion within a year, have failed to meet the deadline with their execution rate recorded at less than 50 per cent.

The FE finds that the Asian Development Bank-funded Tk 13.75-billion metre-gauge and broad-gauge passenger carriage procurement project has implemented 80.31 per cent of its work as of March.

The project was undertaken in July 2015 and programmed for completion by June this year.

The BR's largest Tk 392.47-billion Padma railway link project has also completed 55.02 per cent of the total work until the period under review.

The project is due for completion by June 2024.

A senior planning ministry official says the government has been investing higher funds in developing rail services in the last one decade, but the BR's project implementation capacity is still in a shambles.

Seeks anonymity, a senior BR official tells the FE that manpower shortages are delaying project implementation.

Even they have to take charge of more than one project simultaneously which ultimately affects the entire execution process, he says.

The FE finds that a few officials have taken over as directors for more than one ongoing railway project.

According to the BR, it has spent Tk 60.78 billion, 48 per cent of its total Tk 125.76-billion current ADP allocation, in the first three quarters (July-March).

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