At a time when cost escalations and time extensions of various infrastructure development projects in the country have become common phenomena, it is heartening that authorities of a project under the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) were able to save Tk 286 crore so far and are also on the right track to complete the project within the deadline. The Western Bangladesh Bridges Improvement Project, under which 81 bridges are now being built with Japanese finances, have also proposed building 10 more bridges under their ongoing-project with the saved money. According to the project director, while the main reason for the save was the changes in the currency rate (Japanese Yen vs Tk), they have also saved money from the contract and contingency cost.
According to the road transport and bridges minister, the total cost of two other RHD projects were also reduced—more than Tk 1,000 crore was saved in a project under which three new bridges were constructed and three old bridges on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway were repaired, while Tk 220 crore was saved in a project under which the third bridge on Karnaphuli was constructed.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for the majority of the ongoing development projects in the country where cost escalations and time extensions have become the norm. For instance, the cost of the Padma Bridge project, the Khulna-Mongla rail track project were increased, while the metro rail project has also been delayed. Although the original cost of the Padma bridge was estimated Tk 10,161 crore in 2007 on the basis of a feasibility study, after several revisions, the cost rose to Tk 30,193 crore.
But this particular RHD project should serve as an example to the other project authorities who should try to complete their projects within the stipulated budget and on time. If they do so, this would definitely lessen the burden on the taxpayers. As for this particular project, we hope the authorities will be given the go-ahead for building 10 more bridges with the saved money as soon as possible.