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4-lane highway with Ctg still a far cry

Chinese co delays work due to political turmoil: Project cost to go up for redesigning

By Special Correspondent
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The construction work of the four-lane  Dhaka-Chittagong Highway  in Comilla  part remains totally suspended  since October last.  The  time for the  implementation of the project  has been extended for the fourth time  till  December  of the current year. The construction companies which have been awarded the expansion work  of the Comilla part of the Highway include one Chinese company. The Chinese company kept suspended the work of Comilla  part  for more than four months, project officials said expressing  the hope that it would  resume the work  shortly. Communication minister Obaidul Quader who had been to the project site recently expressed the hope that  the Chinese company which could not work due to recent political instability, would begin  the work soon. Meanwhile, the cost of the 4-lane  Dhaka-Chittagong Highway Project has  gone up by  approximately 34 per cent due to delay in implementation of the work, some relevant  officials   requesting anonymity told the media. The construction work began in January, 2010 for upgrading the busy 192.3 kilometre Dhaka-Chittagong highway to four lanes to reduce the traffic congestions on the route. The project was originally scheduled to  complete by December 2013.The Roads and Highways Department is implementing the project originally  at an estimated cost  of Tk 2,382 crore. But due to repeated extensions of implementation time the cost has increased by about 34 per cent, sources said.'Due to redesign, the project cost has now been estimated at Tk 3,190 crore,'  project director  said adding, 'As we did not finish the underground work so this redesign did not create any extra problem for us.'Project Director Ebne Alam Hasan, Roads and Highways additional chief engineer, talking to The New Nation on Sunday said  that as per recommendation from the planning and communications ministries the detail project plan had been revised.He said that they redesigned the project for changing elements and measurement of the levels of the soil under the bituminous pavement (blacktop) of the highway.Ebne Alam Hasan  said  so far nearly 42 per cent of the construction work of the project  has been done. He said as 70 per cent of the road package of the project has been awarded to the Chinese company, so timely completion of the project mostly depends on performance of the Chinese company. When asked how far he was optimistic  of timely completion of the work, he said additional effort has to be given for the purpose.The land acquisition process has taken long time causing delay in the project implementation, he said adding there were some schools, mosques, temples and graveyards on the highway, shifting of which had taken time.  Despite repeated extensions of time for implementation of the project it is doubtful whether it would  complete in time as nearly 60 per cent of the work remains to be done, informed circle said.  Some relevant officials  also avoided to make any comment being quoted  about the progress of the work.  The government has been trying  hard  for  support of the Chinese government  so that the work is complete  within this year, another official source said. Bangladesh Road Transport Workers' Federation general secretary Osman Ali however, differed  with him. He said 'Maybe only 20 per cent of the project has been completed." Bangladesh Inter-District Truck Drivers' Union leader Mohammad Millat Hossain  said that the progress of the project  is still  far from satisfactory. 'We  are facing problems in plying our vehicles due to delay in implementation of the project,' he said.About 22,000 to 25,000 vehicles ply on the Dhwaka-Chittagong highway daily, according to an estimate of Road and Highways. The delay in implementation of the project, transport sector leaders said was causing frequent traffic jams and road accidents on the highway. The highway will be widened in 10 road work packages divided between Daudkandi toll plaza and Chittagong Gate. Of the 10 road packages, seven have been awarded to the Chinese construction company. Communications minister Obaidul Quader could not be reached for his comment whether  the project   would  complete  as per the revised  schedule within December this year.  

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