Fast-track projects to continue amid lockdown | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 12, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:59 PM, April 11, 2021

Fast-track projects to continue amid lockdown

Works of the fast-track projects will continue amid the strict lockdown to be imposed from Wednesday to contain the sharp rise of Covid-19 cases and deaths.

The decision came at the 15th meeting of the Fast Track Project Monitoring Task Force held yesterday after chiefs of the implementing agencies of the mega projects opined to continue works, said meeting participants.

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Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus, also head of the taskforce, presided over the virtual meeting.

"Works of the fast-track projects will continue amid lockdown maintaining health safety guidelines," Belayet Hossain, secretary of Bridges Division under the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry, told The Daily Star yesterday.

A project director said the meeting did not ask them to stop works during the lockdown rather told them to expedite it to ensure full implementation of the allocated money for this fiscal year.

"So, I think project works would continue," he told The Daily Star, wishing not be named.

The eight fast-track projects are: Padma Bridge, Padma Bridge Rail Link, Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 (Metro Rail), Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Rail Link, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Matarbari 1,200MW Coal-fired Power Plant, Rampal Power Plant and the Payra Deep Seaport.

With most of the fast-track projects already running behind schedule mainly due to uncertainty over funding, complexity over designs, planning and land acquisition, their progress was hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Works of the eight top priority projects slowed down, while some of them got halted when the government executed shutdown for more than two months from March last year.

Lack of manpower, especially those from abroad, and supply of construction materials amid global pandemic were main reasons behind it.

When these projects are gaining momentum from late last year, second phase of the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the country, leading the government to enforce strict lockdown again.

In this situation, the taskforce yesterday held the meeting to review the projects' progress to know about the challenges.

"We wanted to continue works as seven-day pause will halt the momentum," said chief of an implementing agency.

The meeting also discussed about the vaccination programme for foreigners involved in those projects, he said.

Most of the project officials said they would be able to utilise the allocated funds for this fiscal year if the situation does not deteriorate further, said another project director.

"However, it would be a major challenge if the situation worsens further," he added.  

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