It costs more and takes longer to implement a flyover project in Bangladesh than in any other South Asian country, despite labour and construction materials being comparatively cheap here.
One kilometre of four-lane flyover costs on an average Tk 123 crore in Bangladesh. The average cost of that in India is Tk 100 crore and in Pakistan around Tk 70 crore.
In some cases, the cost of a flyover in Bangladesh is higher than that of in countries like Malaysia and China, where less than Tk 100 crore is spent for building a km of four-lane flyover, according to construction experts and project findings in those countries.
“Yes, the construction cost here is much higher,” said Shamsul Haque, who is involved in almost every flyover project in Bangladesh. The professor of civil engineering department in Buet is not sure exactly why the cost goes up.
WHY THE HIGH COST?
Though there is no specific study on why flyover construction cost in Bangladesh is the highest in the region, related experts single out corruption among other reasons.
Delay in implementation of projects is also a major reason behind the cost escalation. Most of the infrastructure projects are taken up at a lower cost but due to repeated time extensions the costs go up several times.
For example: The 8km Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover project was taken up in January 2011 by the LGED and it was supposed to be completed by December 2014. The authorities concerned extended time by one and a half years, until mid-2016, as the work was not done. The cost jumped to Tk 1,219 crore from Tk 773 crore, an increase by 58 percent.
The construction cost was calculated at Tk 97 crore per km at the beginning but now it stands at Tk 152 crore per km. The work has not been completed yet even though an extended deadline expired several months ago.
Similarly, the Mayor Hanif Flyover project, worth around Tk 350 crore, suffered massive delays in implementation since 1998. In June 2010, the construction work finally began.
Initially, the plan was to build a three-km flyover but later it was redesigned to be a 11.7km-long flyover.
The project cost had shot up to Tk 2,300 when it was opened for public in 2013.
There are examples of delays in project implementation in other South Asian countries too but compared to Bangladesh, those delays are small, according to several project profiles of different countries.
India, Pakistan, and Malaysia, among other countries, have several examples in which projects were completed ahead of time, saving costs.
WHAT EXPERTS SAY
Experts think contractors' negligence, improper planning and feasibility studies, lack of accountability and transparency, red tape, and inadequate preparation, among others, are the main reasons for the high cost. Land acquisition, rehabilitation of people, finding financiers, legal and bureaucratic tangles also cause unnecessary delays.
Shamsul Haque said the fear factor centring the political atmosphere in Bangladesh, delays in implementation, and delays in getting paid, and the bringing in of skilled engineers from abroad were some reasons why the quoted price in bids was high.
Other experts think corruption and inefficiency of the authorities concerned in implementing such projects were the main reasons for the higher costs.
Former caretaker government adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman said the costs of such projects become higher mainly because of inefficiency and corruption.
“One is institutional corruption that means when a project is taken up and price is quoted, corruption enters and cost inflates. The other reason is implementation inefficiency that means our authorities can't finish work in time. So costs increase further due to delays in implementation,” he told The Daily Star.
He said irrational and inflated cost in different projects has become a major problem. “Where Tk 10 is supposed to be quoted, Tk 100 has been given.”
“Generally, project costs are higher in the country than our neighbours and even in some cases more than developed nations,” he noted.
PROJECT COSTS DIFFER TOO!
The Mayor Hanif Flyover was implemented at a cost of Tk 230 crore per km. Kuril Flyover implemented by Rajuk cost Tk 114 crore per km and Zia Colony and Banani flyovers cost Tk 99 crore per km.
Mouchak-Moghbazar Flyover was supposed to cost Tk 93 crore per kilometre but now it could be Tk 120 crore per km due to delays and changes in the plan.
The planned Dhaka Elevated Expressway is supposed to cost Tk 255 crore per km.
The Delhi Public Works Department constructed a 2km-long two-lane flyover in East Delhi at a cost of Tk 46.25 crore. That means for one kilometre it cost a little over Tk 23 crore.
The per kilometre costing of Kolkata's 4.5km Parama Island Flyover is Tk 115 crore, even after a huge cost-overrun and delays.
Pakistan built 2.12km Bab-i-Peshawar flyover in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the cost of Tk 130 crore only, that is Tk 61 crore per km.
Malaysia is currently implementing two flyovers in Sabah province. The per km cost would be Tk 61 crore.
Contacted, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said due to various reasons costs go up while implementing infrastructure projects in Bangladesh. One of the major reasons is land acquisition and resettlement of the people, he said.
The minister said legal tangles, relocation of people, and educational and religious establishments some times cause delays.