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Increasing project costs must be stopped

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11th-Jan-2020       
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THE cost of rail bridge over the Jamuna River has been increased by Tk 3,216 crore even before the start of physical work. The project now costs around Tk 12,950.6 crore, which is 33 percent more than the amount mentioned in Development Project Proforma approved by the ECNEC in December 2016. However, the Cabinet Committee on purchase gave approval to the project in the name of improving the capacity and safety of rail communications across the river to the northwestern and southern regions. The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge Construction Project was supposed to be implemented between January 2016 and December 2023. But the purchase committee approval comes more than three years after the ECNEC's approval.
The new 4.8 km bridge, under two packages, will be built some 300 metres upstream to the Bangabandhu Bridge. Japan will provide the lion's share of the cost in soft loans. New technologies like Steel-Pipe-Sheet-Pile foundation, Direct Rail Fastener, Weathering Steel, Head Hardened Rail, and Derailment Guard will be used for the first time in Bangladesh. Since the officials did not know that these technologies would be used, they could not make a proper estimation. The delay in schedules of trains that travel between the capital and northwestern and southern regions has been a common occurrence for years. The delays are mainly due to restrictions on load and speed on the existing bridge, which has rail lines and roads. With a top permitted speed of 20kmph, it takes about half an hour for a train to make it from the station on the east side to the one on the west.
Cost overrun for corruption is a common bottleneck in planning and execution of big construction projects. Thousands of people have been suffering for delaying the construction of the rail bridge, but that couldn't stop the misappropriation of funds.                       

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