Meeting megaproject deadlines such as that of Padma Bridge or the Metro Rail, turns out to be a serious challenge for the government, due mainly Chinese Engineers who left Bangladesh to celebrate new year 2020 could not t return yet for Covid-19 pandemic.

About 10,000 Chinese engineers and experts have been working those projects being implemented with Chinese technical assistance; half of them left Bangladesh to celebrate new year.

“The Chinese experts and engineers have not yet returned from China due to Covid-19  pandemic which hinders progress of construction works of the Bangladesh mega projects,” a position paper on impact on Bangladesh economy by Covid-19 was prepared by Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Delay in project will accelerate cost significantly, a paper said.

Among 10 megaprojects, only one, the Maheshkhali Floating LNG terminal, has been completed so far. Padma Bridge construction has made comparatively more progress than the other projects, followed by the metro rail project. Apart from these three, the seven other projects have been left almost untouched.

However, the construction of Padma Bridge, metro rail and the Maheshkhali LNG terminal required increased costs and extended time, affecting their ultimate utilities.

In seven of the 10 projects, the estimated allocation in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) is Taka 2.8 lakh crore. However, expenditure so far has only been Tk 99.79 billion, that is, only 35 per cent of the total allocation.

The Foreign Ministry started talk with Chinese embassy so that the technitians and engineers could start returning Bangladesh very soon.

Construction works of Rooppur Nuclear Power witnessed a 14 per cent of the work, The Matarbari power plant 21 per cent , the Cox’s Bazar railway line project see 12 per cent, Rampal power plantat Bagerhat has not happened as yet.

Payra deep seaport was undertaken in 2015 and was scheduled to end by June 2020. More than half the work is yet to be finished. Other fast track projects include the deep seaport at Sonadia in Cox’s Bazar, The Maheshkhali Floating Terminal also witness slow progress.

Chinese embassy in Dhaka earlier in an impact assessment of projects now being implemented in Bangladesh  said the number  is huge and diversified, which have been affected in varying degree due to supply disruption of men and materials.

“Bangladesh has stopped issuing visa on arrival which is delaying visits of some personnel tasked with design management and construction of projects,” it said adding none of the returnees working with Padma Bridge can return. Some of them are professional technicians and skilled workers and their absence will have a great negative impact on timely completion of the bridge project.

About 300 Chinese working with Payra Thermal Power Plant project have been so far unable to return.  Similarly the feasibility study for Circular Rail Line around Dhaka city is set to suffer as the Chinese company for this project located in Wuhan City is failing to send staff to Bangladesh, it said.

Bhasanchar project is also facing setback because Chinese technical team could not arrive in time   and the technical and commercial bid negotiations related to the early stage of the project was hindered.

Tenders for several substation projects to be submitted for in February or March are facing uncertainty.  Supply of equipment and material for ongoing Chinese companies supported projects are also facing setback.

Padma Railway Link Project being constructed by China Railway Group is facing delay because construction of prefabricated railway sleeper in Wuhan Sleeper Company is being delayed.

Karnaphuli Tunnel project under construction by China Communications Construction Co Ltd is facing problems for supply shortage, the embassy statement said.  S Alam Thermal Power Plant Project is also facing serious delay in supply of contractual material and equipment.

Expansion and Strengthening of Power System Network, Dasherkandy Sewage Treatment Plant Project, installation of Single Point Mooring with Double Pipeline Project, Modernization of Telecommunication Network for Digital Connectivity have been affected.

Barisal 350 MWThermal Power Plant, the Patuakhali 1320 MWThermal Power Plant, the China-Bangladesh Friendship Exhibition Center, the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge and such other projects are likely to suffer.  Eventually there will be serious cost over-run, it said.



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