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11th-Sep-2018

Ensure accountability in completing mega projects

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LIKE many other mega projects that embraced repeated cost overrun due to several extension of the deadline, the construction work of the most talked Padma Bridge, pointed as the symbol of national pride and capacity, would not be accomplished on schedule. The disclosure comes from Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Sunday when he was briefing newsmen. The minister accused the mightiness and unpredictable nature of the river for delaying completion within the deadline as setting up spans into the river become tougher than the perception.
News media reported that the Bridges Division stated that fifty-nine per cent works of the main bridge and 36.5 per cent of the river training have been completed. According to the first revision of the project in 2011, the work was scheduled to be completed in 2015.
Later, the deadline was extended to 2018. Meanwhile, the cost of the Padma Bridge project went up by Tk 1,400 crore to Tk 30,193 crore as the government acquired more land last June. As per the Bridges Division, the government was to acquire 1,530 hectares of land at a cost of Tk 1,299 crore for the bridge project but now a total of 2,693 hectares of land need to be acquired for the project for Tk 2,699 crore. The project, when approved in 2007, was supposed to cost Tk 10,162 crore, but in 2011 it was revised upwards to Tk 20,507 crore and now reached at Tk 30,193 crore.
The government claimed the construction work of the bridge will brighten the country's image even after World Bank decline to finance the mega project citing corruption. We see cost overrun and missed deadline have become unalienable nature of the mega projects of the government that ultimately show the inefficiency, ineptness and possible corruption in several mega project completion.  
Despite repeated cautions, the development projects taken by government targeting the election propaganda without proper feasibility study have appeared as big burden on the national economy. The river management work was not properly done but the Padma Bridge construction work was initiated in a hurry.