Project delay and cost overrun

Dhaka,  Fri,  26 May 2017
Published : 13 May 2017, 20:09:09
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Project delay and cost overrun

Money spent on public works has little accountabi-lity. Agencies with not enough expertise are increasingly getting the work orders. This is why all the mega projects and also many other smaller projects undertaken so far have overrun costs and been delayed by several years for completion       
Construction of 1.47-km Labukhali bridge on Payra River connecting the Barisal-Patuakhali Highway is yet another example of unacceptable project delay and cost escalation. Yet this is not the only snag that the bridge project has run into, a revised proposal has also been prepared by the project evaluation committee (PEC), recommending major changes in the design. In a way, to go by the report carried in this newspaper on May 09, it is more or less a fresh proposal. The project cost under the revised proposal is estimated to overrun to Tk 8.60 billion from the earlier amount of Tk 4.13 billion. Another four and a half years' time has been sought for its completion.

By the look of it, the project has been a total mismatch. With its construction work starting in 2012, it was supposed to be completed by June 2017. In this country, delay in completion of a project has become a regular feature and cost escalation also follows it. But faulty feasibility study and design have started plaguing projects of late. That the defect in the design (which concerns left-hand driving instead of the country's right-hand option) of the Maghbazar-Mouchak flyover was detected at a very late stage. What remedies have been suggested for the fault is yet to be known. Details of the faults of Lebukhali bridge are not available but it concerns piling, a vital area of bridge construction on a river, particularly when it involves a river within a network of rivers connected to a sea. If the department/s concerned is/are indifferent to feasibility study, it is evident that the works to be followed are likely to be questionable as well. Money spent on construction of parts of the infrastructure may have already gone waste.

What is intriguing is that the PEC has taken about four years to detect the fault in feasibility study. This is ludicrous. How can a project be approved without ensuring that the feasibility study is foolproof in the first place? This is no child play. The design fault has its precedent and this should have been enough cause for the authorities involved to be extra cautious about ensuring its accuracy. No wonder a development partner Kuwait suspended its portion of funding because of the irregularities in spending money on project elements not within the specification. Even now the Roads and Highway Department cannot guarantee that the changes made in the piling work will be equal to the task unless a neutral competent expert or firm gives a green signal to this. 

All this, therefore, boils down to the fact that money spent on public works has little accountability. Agencies with not enough expertise are increasingly getting the work orders. This is why all the mega projects and also many other smaller projects undertaken so far have overrun costs and been delayed by several years for completion. If it is not inept handling, it is even worse -wilful neglect of required homework or ground work in order to maximise profits from public works and projects.      

 
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Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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