Bangladesh Railway (BR) yesterday signed a contract with a local private company to establish a 500-bed hospital and 100-seat medical college in Chattogram, which would increase availability and accessibility of tertiary healthcare to people.
The Tk 399-crore project would be implemented under Public Private Partnership (PPP) on a six-acre land beside the existing Railway Hospital in the port city.
"For the first time, we are going to implement a project under PPP initiative," Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said at the contract signing ceremony at Rail Bhaban in the capital.
BR Additional Chief Engineer (Bridge) Ahsan Jabir, also the project director, and Moinuddin Hasan Rashid, managing director of United Enterprises and Co Ltd, singed the contract on behalf of their respective organisations.
Under the project, the company has to operationalise at least 250-bed multi-specialty hospital within the next three years while additional 250 beds will be added within the next two years.
In the third phase, the medical college has to be operationalised within the 12th year of the contract. The project will also consist a nursing institute or a paramedical college.
BR would provide the land on lease and the company will design, build, finance and operate for a contract period of 50 years and would transfer project facilities to BR afterwards.
BR would get an upfront fee of Tk 5 crore prior to singing of the PPP contract and an annual contract fee of TK 1.5 crore from the sixth year with an annual fee of 10 percent once every three years.
The annual contract fee for fourth and fifth year would be Tk 75 lakh each.
Besides, the company would provide healthcare services to BR and Railway Ministry officials at a 20 percent discounted rate.
BR operates a number of hospitals catering to railway employees in different parts of the country, but many of those need to be upgraded to cater growing demands, officials said.
Railways Ministry Senior Secretary Mofazzel Hossain said, "This is the first non-core business Bangladesh Railway is going to do. This is a positive beginning."
Non-core is an engagement considered to be outside of business activities or operations that are the main revenue source of the business.
He, however, said there are concerns over the environment, and he has asked the company to construct and operate the hospital taking that into consideration.
The minister said BR has a huge amount of property in various important places, but many of those have been grabbed. They are working to utilise the unused or less used land, he added.
BR Director General Md Shamsuzzaman said they had taken several projects under PPP but those were not successful for various reasons. He hoped this project will be a success.
PPP Authority's Chief Executive Officer Muhammad Alkama Siddiqui said this is a milestone for Bangladesh Railway and thanked BR for taking the initiative.
Moinuddin Hasan said they would try their level best to complete the work within deadline.