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Sunday, December 17, 2017 12:14:44 PM
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Ten years yet to buy dredgers

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THE government has planned to carry out dredging and make the country's vast waterways navigable in 10 years back but it is still nowhere to come to the nation's help. Five years gone with little progress while mysteriously Tk 1,309-crore project has been delayed as procurement procedures can't be streamlined. The fact is that big procurement brings opportunity for big corruption and lobbying by one vested group or another to get contract is stalling the progress.

Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) was given the responsibility and the money to buy 21 dredgers, nine tug boats, two inspection boats and other dredging equipment by 2012. We fail to comprehend what are the bureaucratic bottlenecks to have blocked the procurement. Furthermore, following the delay, the project's implementation cost besides the cost for dredgers, boats and equipment have also shot up.

What appears strange instead of dredging the rivers in 10 years, the procurement process is taking 10 years now. In our view the concerned procurement authorities should be held accountable and called for hearing to explain the delay. Also the BWDB authority should convincingly explain how it plans to finish the purchase to implement the project.

Reportedly BWDB officials continue to blame the slow tendering process and no response from competent bidders. If the allegations are true, the people handling the project must be removed for incompetence and possible for sheltering irregularities.

The Planning Ministry is said to have written to the Water Resources Ministry in June, requesting to expedite the procurement process but, the progress is somewhat blocked. Meanwhile, Project Directors were changed eight times in the last seven years. It  means, one project director (PD) in about 10 months and it is no secret that contest for the post for being highly rewarding one is causing all such instability and failure to put the project at work.

We mark gross mismanagement and incompetence from the end of Water Resources Ministry and the BWDB and monitoring by high powered bodies over such projects of huge public interest. 

However, prioritising the importance of dredging of over  24,000km of rivers, canals and haors, we expect the government's top-brass to look into the matter quickly. This is more important now as frequent floods are hitting the country, as water bodies are failing to contain the running water. Further delay will only cause more problems.

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