The Financial Express

Yet another BR fast-track project in slow lane!

| Updated: October 23, 2021 15:50:24

Yet another BR fast-track project in slow lane!

Another fast-track project may get delayed in execution as two more years have been sought to install the 130-kilometre Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Ghundum rail line.

Having failed to build it in 13 years, the Bangladesh Railway (BR) has sent the revision proposal to the railways ministry for approval, officials said on Friday.

The ministry has given the green light to the BR to revise the scheme for the second time with an escalation in cost and time, they added.

The BR claims it has completed 62 per cent of the physical work while spending only 32.22 per cent of the total cost until August 2021.

Currently, two joint-venture companies are working for the dual-gauge single-line track from Dohazari-Ramu-Cox's Bazar-Ghundum at Tk 180.34 billion.

As per the latest proposal, the project is programmed for completion by June 2022 as it began in 2006.

A senior ministry official said: "Failing to implement in time, the BR sought to revise the project. The ministry has given the green light for valid reasons."

A senior BR official said they have been forced to revise the project for failing to get acquired land in time, rehabilitating and compensating affected people, overcoming complexities on forest land use, shifting utility services and the Covid-19 pandemic.

District administrations had failed to timely hand over 1,365 acres of land acquired from the public, he told the FE.

But insiders said the BR got most of the 1,365 acres of land in 2018 and the rest in 2019.

A BR official said: "When we went for acquiring land, it took a lot of time for obstructions from people. Besides, there were forests on some 165 acres of land."

"We needed to deforest first and then got permission for cutting trees to install the railway track. Those two reasons had delayed the project work."

The Power Grid Company of Bangladesh, Power Development Board and Rural Electrification Board delayed shifting utility lines despite repeated requests, he added.

Two joint-venture companies are working to set up a fresh rail track in the project area.

Under the Lot-1, the BR awarded work to the China-Bangladesh JV, CREC-Toma Construction Ltd, in July 2018 for installing 49-km track and ancillary work between Dohazar-Chakoria at Tk 26.88 billion.

It gave a work order to China-India JV, CCECC-Max Infrastructure Ltd, in March 2018 to build 50-km track between Chakoria-Cox's Bazar at Tk 35.02 billion.

According to official sources, CREC-Toma is yet to start installing the track as it is still working on building embankments, bridges, culverts and station buildings.

On the other hand, CCECC-Max has started setting up the track along with relevant work as it has already installed 5.0-km track.

Meanwhile, the 28.75km line between Cox's Bazar and Ghundum (close to Myanmar boarder) is still uncertain as the BR is yet to engage any contractor for work on the portion.

In September, the Asian Development Bank confirmed $1.5-billion loan for building 130km dual-gauge railway running south from the metre-gauge railhead at Dohazari to Ramu near the border.

"We need another two years up to June 2024 to complete the project. By the fresh deadline, we'll be able to open the railway line for passengers to visit the world's largest unbroken sea beach in Cox's Bazar."

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