DGHS’ three-year project unfinished in nine years
A project by the health ministry to establish a national institute for laboratory medicine, that was approved in 2010 with a three-year deadline, will be up for approval for a fifth time extension at today’s meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) started the project to build National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre (NILMRC) at Sher-E-Bangla Nagar in the capital in July 2010, with a deadline of June 2013.The aim of the project was to facilitate manpower training in laboratory medicine at hospital and community levels; establishing a network among diagnostic laboratories across the country; be a reference centre for pathology services; provide accreditation for diagnostic labs; offering post-graduate courses and research; and earning revenue.
However, it is yet to complete the project in nine years, and will propose a one-year extension to complete the project at today’s Ecnec meeting, according to planning ministry sources.
The initial cost of the project was Tk 138.14 crore, which has been increased by 41 percent to Tk 194.32 crore, with the last deadline expiring in June this year.
A 13-storey building was being built for the institute, which has not yet been handed over to DGHS, according to Prof Dr Shamsuzzaman, fifth project director and first director of the institute.
GK Builders -- owned by disgraced Jubo League leader GK Shamim, who was jailed for his involvement in illegal casino business and other crimes -- is the contractor company for the building, he added.
The deadline for the project was first extended to June 2014, due to “some problems at implementation stage”, according to the Ecnec proposal. The deadline was later extended three more years, to June 2017.
Later, budget for the project was increased by 41 percent by amending the project, keeping the same 2017 deadline, which was further extended to June 2019 without changing the budget.
However, according to the latest proposal, there are a number of pending deliverables, including purchase of laboratory equipment, and ensuring security setup for already purchased machinery.
Besides, there are some issues regarding training of human resources, which could be done after completing the procurement, DGHS says in the time extension proposal.
“There were some obstacles since the beginning; it took a long time to get land… Eventually, we sent a proposal in February this year to extend time further; but the ministry took too long to respond,” Abul Kalam Azad, director general of DGHS, told The Daily Star.
Prof Shamsuzzaman told The Daily Star, “It took three years to possess the 22.6 katha land. The cost of the land was estimated Tk 60 lakh initially, but it increased to Tk 6 crore in 2011. There were numerous reasons for the delay.”
Currently, the contractor company is working in an “internal setting” for which more time is needed, the director of the institute said, expressing hope for going on service within the next six months.
“We have appointed several key officials. Teachers would be appointed soon. It would a global-standard institute for training and accreditation in the country,” he added.