Disappointed with Sinohydro's performance in the Dhaka-Chittagong highway expansion job, its project director expressed concerns about the Chinese company getting the river-training work for the Padma Bridge.
In a letter to the communications secretary on June 22, Project Director (PD) Ebne Alam Hasan pointed out that both the nationally important projects might be in jeopardy if a company with a poor record of performance was given the river training job.
He urged the government to take steps so that Sinohydro completes the highway expansion work, which was way behind schedule.
He gave details on how Sinohydro was hampering the Dhaka-Chittagong highway project. He said the project period had been extended by two years but it would still take more time to finish due to the poor performance of the company.
The Chinese company's performance was worse than local companies which had been given the job of expanding other parts of the highway, Alam went on to say.
He said on January 10, 2010, Sinohydro was given the job of making 139 kilometres of Dhaka-Chittagong highway into a dual-carriageway. It was given time until January 2013.
From the beginning, Sinohydro ran into trouble with filing materials for roadway embankment, shortage of equipment, shortage of materials and finally, shortage of funds, read the letter.
All the seven contracts awarded to Sinohydro were extended twice – first, up to September 2013 and then, December 2014.
The Dhaka-Chittagong highway, also called the country's economic lifeline, is being expanded in 10 contracts. Local construction firm Reza Construction got two contracts while Taher Brothers got one.
The letter adds, even after extension of the deadline twice to complete the work, the progress of Sinohydro's seven contracts was very poor, which was detrimental to the successful implementation of the project.
It said a shortage of resources including materials, equipment, manpower and, above all, finance, delayed the construction work. The shortage of major construction materials like stones, bitumen and sand is worth about $100 million.
The PD said the Sinohydro's gloomy performance would allow anyone to apprehend that the company did not have the capacity to fulfil the goal in time.
He said the government was expecting to have the expansion work finished by the December 2014 deadline but the Chinese contractor has not made it clear that the work would be done by then, he added.
According to communications ministry officials, Sinohydro got the expansion work bidding unusually low price. But it has been refusing to continue with the work, demanding money from the ministry, which is a gross violation of its contract for which the ministry could cancel the deal.
Instead of cancelling the contract, the ministry has been trying to persuade the company to finish the work, but with little success.
Communications Minister Obaidul Quader during a visit to Chittagong on June 28 criticised the company for the delays in finishing the highway expansion job.
Sinohydro had also quoted a very low price for the river training job.
The Daily Star tried to communicate with Sinohydro's deputy representative in Bangladesh Liao Libing by calling and sending him texts but he did not respond.