Purchase of 10 Locomotives: Ministry probe finds breach of contract | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 04, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:07 AM, March 04, 2021

Purchase of 10 Locomotives: Ministry probe finds breach of contract

South Korean Hyundai Rotem Company has supplied 10 locomotives to Bangladesh Railway deviating from some clauses of the contract, a probe committee has found.

The three-member committee, led by an additional secretary of the railways ministry, has blamed Hyundai and a firm hired by BR for the pre-shipment inspection for this, three people who are aware of the probe findings told The Daily Star.

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The committee has recently submitted its report to the ministry and a meeting in this regard, chaired by Railways Secretary Salim Reza, was held at the Rail Bhaban yesterday. A representative from Hyundai was also present.

At the meeting, the secretary informed the participants about the probe findings and formed a technical committee led by Mohammad Hassan Mansur, the previous director of the project, to find a solution.

The metre-gauge diesel electric locomotives -- bought under the project worth around Tk 300 crore -- arrived at a railways workshop in Chattogram's Pahartoli after they were unloaded at the Chattogram port in September last year.

Later in its report, a commissioning committee said the technical specifications of three capital components -- alternators, compressors and traction motors -- of the supplied locomotives did not match the specifications mentioned in the agreement, showed railway documents obtained by The Daily Star.

Under such circumstances, the project authorities halted payment for the locomotives and Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan in October last year ordered an investigation into the matter.

The ministry formed a committee in late November with its Joint Secretary Faizur Rahman Faruqui as the head. But Project Director Nur Ahmed Hossain wrote to the ministry, requesting it to exclude a member from the body.

In January this year, the ministry reconstituted the committee, changing the head and excluding that particular member. Farukuzzaman, additional secretary (law and land) of the ministry, was made the committee chief.

The members of the committee include Prof Muhammed Mahbubur Razzaque of Buet's mechanical engineering department, and Tabassum Binte Islam, joint director general (mechanical) of the BR.

After missing several deadlines, the committee submitted its report early this week.

Meanwhile, the locomotives have been lying idle at the railways workshop for six months, at a time when the BR is struggling to run its operation with a large number of outdated engines.

PROBE REPORT

Contacted, Farukuzzaman said they have submitted their report early this week. He declined to disclose the findings.

However, a person who is very much aware about the findings said contract deviations have been found in the supply of the locomotives.

"Neither of the parties, including Hyundai, denied it," he told The Daily Star, wishing not to be named.

About the change in equipment, Hyundai officials told the probe committee that they have supplied "better equipment" but they did not take legal approval for it, meaning they have deviated from the contract, he said.

 "Hyundai and the firm assigned for the pre-shipment inspection have mainly been blamed for it," he said.

Two other persons familiar with the probe findings echoed this.

Railways document shows that Hyundai supplied alternator model TA9-12CA9SE, but the agreement sought alternator model TA12-CA9.

Railways officials said the two models are different in terms of horsepower output.

Besides, as per a government plan, all the rail tracks in the country would be converted into dual gauge within a few years. The government had instructed the BR to purchase locomotives which could be used on both metre-gauge and broad-gauge by changing the undercarriages.

But with the TA9-12CA9SE alternator, the locomotives will not run on broad-gauge, said officials.

Hyundai supplied Engine model no 8-710G3B-ES instead of model no 8-710G3B-TI as mentioned in the contract, saying that the engines they provided are "superior" to the one mentioned in the contract, documents show.

They also supplied different traction motors.

A BR official said the agreement contains clear direction about what should be done in case of contract deviation and the authorities should go for it, instead of forming any committees.

The Daily Star could not reach Roni Mostafa, proprietor of Golam Mostafa and Sons, the local agency of Hyundai for the project, over phone for comments on the issue. He also did not respond to text messages.

This newspaper also could not reach the ministry's secretary over the phone.

 

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