Matarbari plant link road: Cost to spiral for poor feasibility studies
Although the overall length of a road linking the Matarbari coal-based power plant in Maheshkhali upazila to Cox's Bazar town has reduced, the construction cost is set to increase by more 70 per cent from the initial estimate owing to poor feasibility studies.
The initial cost of the project for construction and repair of the 43.66-kilometre (km) road was estimated to be Tk 602 crore and scheduled to be complete June 2020.
Following the first revision, this estimate reached Tk 660 crore and completion deadline extended to June 2022.
Now, due to a second revision, an additional Tk 365 crore will be sought, raising the overall cost to Tk 1,025 crore, according to documents of the planning commission.
Moreover, the five-year project is expected to take nine years and be completed by June 2024.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges took up the project in July 2015 in which the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) was the implementing agency.
Now, due to a second revision, an additional Tk 365 crore will be sought, raising the overall cost to Tk 1,025 crore, according to documents of the planning commission
Of the overall cost coming up in the second revision, Tk 791 crore will come from loans of Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and Tk 235 crore from the government exchequer.
The second revision planned may be proposed at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council tomorrow.
PROJECT COMPONENT CHANGES
Of the road, 10.31 km was initially planned to be constructed for the first time at an estimated cost of Tk 96 crore.
In the second revision, this length was decreased by 2.96 km while the cost increased by Tk 105 crore.
Another 12.80 km of the road was initially supposed to be repaired on a large scale at a cost of Tk 35 crore.
Now the length meant for this repair has been reduced by 7.57 km while its expenditure increased by Tk 5.10 crore.
In the original plans, the road construction and repair included building a 640-metre bridge at a cost of Tk 180 crore over the Kohelia river.
But the second revision increased its length to 895 metres and the cost to Tk 220 crore, meaning an extra Tk 40 crore will be needed.
Apart from that, a new 54-metre reinforced cement concrete girder bridge will have to be built, increasing the overall cost by Tk 32 crore.
A project evaluation committee of the planning ministry has asked to explain the reasons of the high cost of road construction and Kohelia bridge's components in the second revision.
Asking not to be named, an official of the planning commission also blamed poor feasibility studies for cost and time overruns.
"A total of three (project evaluation committee) meetings have been held for this project as the planning commission did not get the proper response from the project officials," he said.
At least seven years has already elapsed since the project was undertaken but it is still not at a satisfactory stage, he added.
The project director, Mohammad Jahangir Alam, also acknowledged that the feasibility studies were of a poor standard.
"It was not detailed and complete," he said.
"In the first feasibility study, the measurement was not carried out properly. That is why the cost in the revision has increased," he added.
However, Alam claimed that the latest feasibility studies were properly conducted by international consultants.
"The construction cost has risen due to the soil status being different in the coastal areas where the soil subsides easily," he said.
Alam affirmed that the price determination for the new components had been very "accurate".
"All is neat and clean," he quipped.