The communications minister now himself criticises the Chinese contractor firm responsible for the expansion of Dhaka-Chittagong highway for delaying the work.
Alleging that the firm has breached the contract, Obaidul Quader yesterday said China's Sinohydro Corporation does not work during rainy season, hartals and blockades.
“According to the contract, the firm is supposed to repair the existing road [as well]. But it is declining to do so,” Quader said while speaking at an opinion-exchange meeting at Sarak Bhaban in Chittagong on easing traffic congestion on the highway.
Though the firm had slowed down the expansion work at one point, the work has sped up following the intervention of the Chinese ambassador in Dhaka, he claimed. Sinohydro was awarded seven out of 10 packages of the Dhaka-Chittagong highway project.
Instead of blacklisting the company for breaching contract and refusing to complete the expansion of Dhaka-Chittagong highway, the communications ministry has been persuading it into doing the job.
In January 2010, Sinohydro Corporation won the contract for expanding around 140 kilometres of the highway into a dual carriageway by December 2013. After that, it started dillydallying to do the job, saying it would not finish the work unless the allocation is increased which it can't do as per the procurement rules.
The government then sought help of the Chinese envoy in Dhaka to resolve the problem but still the performance of the firm is frustrating, communications ministry officials said.
The project deadline had to be extended by a year already. And its cost rose to Tk 3,190 crore from the original Tk 1,655 crore due to the inclusion of three rail overpasses and five bridges in the project, changes in its design, price adjustments and the Chinese company's delaying tactics.
About easing traffic on Dhaka-Chittagong highway, known as economic lifeline of the country, Quader called upon the transport owners for not overloading their vehicles during Ramadan.
A monitoring office will be opened at Chittagong Sarak Bhaban from today. The office will monitor traffic jam and condition of roads and take measures accordingly, he said.
The minister also said that several teams will also conduct simultaneous repair work on the highway to ensure smooth traffic movement.
Lawmaker Didarul Alam, Chittagong Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral Nizam Uddin Ahmed, Chittagong Deputy Commissioner Mejbah Uddin, Chittagong Metropolitan Police Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam, Deputy Inspector General of Chittagong Range Md Nowsher Ali, Chittagong Police Super AKM Hafiz Akter and leaders of transport owners and workers were present at the meeting.