Contractor appears averse to completing one flyover, two overpasses by December deadline
After a decade-long run with periodical setbacks, the project on building Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane highway now faces a final hitch as finishing one flyover and two overpass infrastructures by its December deadline looks uncertain.
"Non-cooperation" from the construction firm is being blamed for the latest deceleration.
Officials said as the prolonged project tenure is set to be over in December, the project office had already started procedures to complete physical works by October and other procedures by December.
Despite repeated requests to the construction firm to speed up the process of construction, they said, no such measures were taken to complete the wrapping-up works.
According to the latest progress report, nearly 50 per cent construction of Iliotganj bridge and Feni flyover remained to be done while 12 per cent work on Comilla overpass would need to be completed before the closing of the project.
"It may be possible to complete Comilla overpass in a month or two, but it will be quite hard to complete two others by December," said an official, preferring not to be named.
The bridge and overpass construction is being carried out under bridge pacakge-2 of the Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane project at a cost of Tk 1.13 billion.
The work was awarded to Shikhon-PBL joint venture on February 14, 2012 and supposed to be completed by last June. But the timeline was missed. Overall progress on the bridge package is 67.5 per cent.
When contacted, PBL Project Chief Engineer Rafiqul Anam said an application for time extension has been pending with the project office as they have sought up to December to complete the rest of the works.
Although the firm had ceased to work during the last few months, the PBL official told the FE over phone that it is possible to complete the construction by December.
However, sources said though the project office has long been requesting the construction firm, PBL (Project Builders Ltd), to speed up their work, they didn't do it during the last few months for reasons not known.
Project Director Aftab Hossain Khan said the tenure of the four-lane highway has been extended several times since the project was taken up in 2005 and its further extension would not be possible since entire four-lane works are already completed by a Chinese and two local firms.
He said completing physical work by October is needed to get at least two months time to complete other formalities.
The prime minister gave a direction during the ECNEC meeting on May 31 against extending any longer the project tenure which has been pending for long.
Sources said project office is set to have a meeting with Prime Minister's office Thursday to review overall situation of the project, including taking decision on the three undone infrastructures.
It is, however, learnt that the project office is considering closing the project by December and cancelling the work order with the PBL to open a new project as per the PM guidelines.
The Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane project has so far gone through several challenges since inception in 2004-2005. Its tender procedures were cancelled twice and development project proposals revised four times, more than doubling the cost.
Its initial cost was estimated Tk 16 billion but enhanced up to Tk 38.16 billion in the last round of changes.
Initially named four-lane project, two flyovers and three overpasses, two underpasses, 61 bus-bay stops and 14km bypass were later incorporated into it, along with changes in pavement design.
Entire 190.48km road works have been designed in 10 packages and three bridge construction packages. A Chinese firm was awarded 70 per cent of the road works in 2011 and two other Bangladeshi firms got the rest 30 per cent in their share.