Several major projects involving Chinese contractors are facing problems due to the week-long suspension of international flights, project officials and contractors said.
They said many people, including experts, in these projects have to come from and go to China on a regular basis, and the suspension from Wednesday was hampering their movement.
Meanwhile, China Railway Group Limited, also known as CREC, contractor for several of the projects including the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, yesterday urged the authorities to resume Bangladesh-China flights.
The CREC, on behalf of the other Chinese contractors working in Bangladesh, made the appeal, reads a press release sent through its PR agency.
Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Rail Line Construction Project and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line-3 Construction Project, among other works, are facing the problems.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) has suspended all international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh from April 14 to April 20 midnight.
Caab made the decision after the government imposed an eight-day strict restrictions on public movement from April 14 to contain the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Two flights had been operating on the Bangladesh-China route every week since July last year, sources said.
Although the government enforced the eight-day lockdown, it kept the eight fast-track projects out of its purview. Recently, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan has said they will not bar contractors from working if they can follow the health safety guidelines.
The CREC said the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project is an important cooperation project between Bangladesh and China. At present, the project is running at a full swing and the project personnel require to travel between China and Bangladesh frequently.
Around 30 people, including the project managers, safety and quality personnel, and technical construction personnel in key positions involved in the projects, need to travel between the two countries every week, reads the press release.
Due to the outbreak, the project management personnel and the on-site labour arrangements have been continuously affected.
And now, the flight suspension policy has even worsened the progress of the projects. If these personnel cannot return to the construction site from China on time, some working procedures are going to be difficult to implement, and some work will even be forced to be suspended, it said.
"This will directly affect the progress of the construction work," it added.
At present, the pandemic situation in China has been effectively controlled. The Chinese personnel who came to Bangladesh were all vaccinated with two shots, and therefore they will not pose any risk of infection to Bangladesh, added the release.
Contacted, Project Director (PD) of the Padma Bridge Rail Line Project Golam Fakhruddin Ahmed Chowdhury also admitted the problem.
He said a group of experts for starting the installation of rail track under the project is supposed to be in Bangladesh, but their arrival is getting delayed due to the flight suspension.
Some 700 Chinese nationals are now working under the project, he said.
The government is implementing the Tk 39,246 crore project to connect the capital with Jashore by 2022 with a 169km rail line over the under-construction Padma bridge.
Another fast track project is the construction of the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail line and the CREC is one of the contractors of the CTG-Cox's Bazar rail project.
"The manpower of CREC is not that big in our project. Yes, we are facing a little problem over the issue [suspension of flights], but it is not that big," an official of the project told The Daily Star yesterday.
"However, we are facing problems in bringing construction materials from abroad. We are continuing our work, but it can't be said that we are working in full swing," he said, wishing not to be named.
Some experts required for the Bus Rapid Transit Line-3 were supposed to reach Bangladesh this week, but their arrival got delayed due to suspension of flights, Shafiqul Islam, managing director of Dhaka Bus Rapid Transit Company Limited (DBRTCL), said yesterday.
The government is building a dedicated bus line from Dhaka Airport to Gazipur under the project.