Contract Breach Over 10 Locomotives: Technical body recommends accepting those
A technical committee has recommended taking delivery of the 10 locomotives that South Korean Hyundai Rotem Company supplied to Bangladesh Railway without meeting some of the specifications agreed in the contract, said BR officials.
The locomotives, which cost about Tk 330 crore, were left unused for eight months since they arrived in Bangladesh in September last year. The Railway authorities began trial run of the locomotives in late April this year, but the issue of receiving those formally is yet to be settled.
According to the technical committee, the locomotives can be accepted in their present format, said Dhirendra Nath Mazumder, director-general of the BR.
The locomotives, procured under a Tk 733.6 crore-project taken up in 2015, were supposed to be of TA12-CA9 alternator model, as per the contract signed with Hyundai. But the South Korean company provided the locomotives of TA9-12CA9SE alternator model.
The two models are different in terms of power output, said BR officials.
Besides, as per a government plan, all rail lines in Bangladesh would be converted into dual gauge within a few years. The BR was instructed to purchase locomotives that could be used on both metre-gauge and broad-gauge by changing the undercarriages.
But with the TA9-12CA9SE alternator, the locomotives will not run on broad-gauge, according to BR officials.
Upon the arrival of the metre-gauge diesel-electric locomotives in Bangladesh, the BR commissioning committee found that the technical specifications of four key components -- engines, alternators, compressors and traction motors -- of the supplied locomotives did not match the specifications mentioned in the agreement.
Subsequently, the project authority halted 65 percent of the payment for the locomotives and the railways minister in October last year ordered an investigation into the matter.
In March this year, the technical committee was formed to determine whether the 10 locomotives can be commissioned. It has now recommended receiving those.
Asked whether the contract-related issues have to be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase again, Mazumder said, "No. Only the approval of the railways ministry is needed."
Mohammad Hassan Mansur, the project director, told this newspaper yesterday that the committee suggested receiving the locomotives as the BR is operating trains with locomotives of similar configuration.
The next steps regarding the locomotives would be taken based on the report of the technical committee, he said.
Though the committee led by Borhan Uddin, chief mechanical engineer (east) of the BR, submitted its report recently, it is yet to be accepted officially, according to Mansur.
The issues involving the 10 locomotives made waves within the BR and beyond.
Nur Ahmed Hossain, the then-project director who had halted the payment and also raised allegations against "some senior BR officials" of joining hands in an unethical activity to release the funds, was changed on March 31 this year and posted under a junior in his batch in Bangladesh Civil Service.
A probe committee led by Md Farukuzzaman, an additional secretary of the ministry, recommended actions against Hyundai for supplying locomotives in deviation from the contract, and also CCIC Singapore, which the BR employed for pre-shipment inspection, for failing to carry out its duties.
But the authorities did not take any action against Hyundai; rather, they wrote to the Korean company in April this year, asking it to change the alternator, a major equipment of the locomotives, or else the company will get less payment.
"They [Hyundai] did not give alternators as per the contract, so we have asked them to change the alternators," Mansur told this newspaper on May 25.
The engines, traction motors, compressors and other equipment can be used as they are.
Hyundai sought six months to check whether the alternators can be replaced, he added.