Road construction cost way too high | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 21, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:08 PM, June 21, 2017

Road construction cost way too high

Bangladesh spends much bigger amount than India or China; WB cites time overrun, lack of competitive bidding as major reasons

Bangladesh spends much higher amounts than India and China on construction of roads particularly because of time overrun and lack of competitive bidding, says the World Bank.

The estimated cost of construction is $6.6m a kilometre of Rangpur-Hatikumrul four-lane highway, $7m of Dhaka-Sylhet four-lane highway, $11.9m of Dhaka-Mawa four-lane highway and $2.5m of each of Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Mymensingh four-lane highways, according to the WB.

But a four-lane highway costs $1.1m to $1.3m a km in India and $1.3m-$1.6m in China.

The global lender compared the cost of construction in Bangladesh with that in other countries while giving its reaction to the proposed budget for 2017-18 at its Dhaka office yesterday. 

The analysis also cited a previous study “The cost of road infrastructure in developing countries” which blamed a raft of measures for the cost escalation. The study of 2013, however, did not include Bangladesh.

According to the study, factors that push up construction cost in developing countries include terrain ruggedness and proximity to markets, inadequate tender competition, delays in project implementation, conflict and higher level of corruption.  

The study also showed that corruption pushed up the cost of construction, said Zahid Hussain, lead economist of the World Bank in Bangladesh. 

“So, the issue of corruption comes into play in pushing up the construction cost in Bangladesh.”

But there are inadequate measures in the upcoming budget to reduce time overruns and increase competitive bidding, said Zahid.   

Speaking at the programme, Qimiao Fan, country director of the WB for Bangladesh, however, said costs of infrastructures particularly the roads and bridges varied from country to country because of different expenses for land acquisition and raw materials.

“I think it is very, very important to look at the different cost estimates for different projects.”

He said Zahid in his presentation mentioned the average numbers. “Not every road or not every kilometre of road is going to cost you exact the same because the geology is different and the amount of excavation needed in different places can be very different.” clearly the numbers

“So, please don't focus on a specific project,” he said, urging journalists to look at the documents and the initial engineering designs of the Padma bridge project to understand the issue.

The WB called for monitoring projects under 10 ministries with large development allocation, identifying low performing projects and appointing consultants to resolve problems, improving coordination between the Economic Relations Division and development partners to ease fund release of 20 large aid-recipient projects.

It also recommended forming a pool of project directors, providing training and expanding electronic government procurement (e-GP) to increase transparency and accountability.

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