The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) is likely to go for international arbitration to settle the Tk 5.0 billion claim of a Japanese joint-venture construction firm that have built three important bridges on Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
Sources said the Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB) has recently given its verdict favouring the firm that has constructed Kanchpur, Meghna and Gumti (KMG) bridges at a cost of Tk 84.86-billion.
So, the RHD has no option other than going to the international arbitration court to get justice.
They said the DAB, formed with the representatives of the executing agency, the contractor and third- party representatives in March, however, did not settle the amount, to be paid to the contractor against its claim.
"The DAB termed claim of the Japanese firm logical. But the board did not make it clear what the amount would be. The government has already agreed to pay a part of the claim at the time of initial negotiation," said an official of the project, preferring anonymity.
OSJI Joint-Venture Company (consortium of Obayashi Corporation, Shimizu Corporation, JFE Engineering Corporation and IHI Infrastructure Systems Company) had placed the claim involving a sum of Tk 5.21 billion to the RHD early last year.
The consortium claimed the money as a reward of completing construction of the bridges ahead of the scheduled time by recovering the project's lapsed time.
It also saved project cost of around Tk 15 billion from the amount of Tk 59.66 billion, as mentioned in the contract deal, signed in January 2016.
As per the deal, the contractors were to build new Kanchpur, Meghna and Gumti bridges as well as to rehabilitate the existing KMG bridges by January 03, 2020.
The project lapsed more than three months, as all Japanese engineers of the firm left Bangladesh following the terror attack at Holey Artisan restaurant in July 2017.
But the firm covered the lapsed-time by engaging its personnel in three shifts and importing high-tech machines to the country after the government had provided adequate security on project sites.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges (MoRTB), meanwhile, settled Tk 780 million against one claim of Tk 1.42 billion as time recovery cost.
Contacted, Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary Nazrul Islam told the FE over phone that the agency will follow the public procurement rules and the contract agreement signed with the firm to settle the claim.
"We cannot violate the contract, and will follow its conditions."
The decision will be taken by the RHD project director and chief engineer, which will be communicated to the MoRTB, he added.
The new bridges were scheduled to be built by 2018 and the rehabilitation work to be completed by 2019. But the Japanese firm worked simultaneously on building new bridges and rehabilitating old bridges, and opened the new bridges for traffic movement in 2019.