Bhulta Flyover: Poor planning jacked up cost by 47%
"It would have been possible to avoid increasing the time and cost of the project implementation if the correct design and DPP had been prepared following a feasibility study."
About nine years back, the government approved a project to build a 613-meter-long four-lane flyover at Bhulta on Dhaka-Sylhet Highway to reduce traffic congestion and road crashes.
The project at Bhulta where Dhaka-Sylhet Highway crosses Dhaka Bypass Road was supposed to be completed by June 2015 at a cost of Tk 239.7 crore.
When the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) moved to implement the project, it found that the flyover's length was too short to be effective enough to help reduce tailback. And the project was revised accordingly in November 2016.
But soon after the construction of the flyover started, the project was again revised in July 2018 as the RHD decided to construct another flyover on Dhaka Bypass Road for better traffic management.
When the project was completed in July 2020, the cost stood at Tk 353.36 crore.
"The project required 250 percent extra time and 47.36 percent additional funding to implement because the project was prepared on the basis of preliminary information, without feasibility study," reads a IMED report.
Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of Planning Ministry released the Impact Evaluation Study report recently.
Time and cost overrun of development projects have become a major concern in recent times, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on several occasions giving directives to stop the malpractice.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) recently said the government is making significant investments in public infrastructure projects (PIPs), but a lack of good governance in project implementation undermines their efficiency.
The think tank identified weak feasibility studies, coordination failure, delays in land acquisition, and frequent changes of project directors as some of the key reasons behind the poor governance in PIPs implementation.
The Daily Star called RHD Chief AKM Manir Hossain Pathan over his mobile phone yesterday evening, but he didn't pick up. Later, he sent a text message, saying he was sick.
Dhaka Bypass Road crosses the Dhaka-Sylhet Highway at Bhulta Bazar. Due to frequent movement of a large number of vehicles on both roads, the Bhulta Bazar area regularly saw long traffic congestions and the risk of accidents was also high, reads the IMED report.
Considering this, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in October 2013 approved the project to build a four-lane flyover though no feasibility study on the project was carried out, it mentioned.
The Development Project Proposal (DPP) was prepared on the basis of "preliminary information" but it was later found that the design of 613-meter-long flyover would not fulfil the project's purpose. And the design was eventually changed.
But immediately after the flyover's construction began, its design had to be altered for a second time as the government decided to turn the Dhaka Bypass Road an access-controlled expressway.
According to the new plan, two flyovers were constructed -- a 1,239-meter-long flyover on Dhaka-Sylhet Highway and a 611-meter-long flyover on Dhaka Bypass Road.
The total cost of the project rose to Tk 353.36 crore and the deadline was extended to July 2020.
"It would have been possible to avoid increasing the time and cost of the project implementation if the correct design and DPP had been prepared following a feasibility study," says the report.
"Preparation of DPP of the project on the basis of preliminary information without feasibility study has resulted in two changes in design for construction of the functional flyovers," it added.
The report further says the completion of the project led to a reduction in traffic congestion, travel time and cost, the number of accidents and also contributed to the overall social and economic development of people.
However, during project inspection, it was found that the flyovers were not properly maintained. Weeds had grown in several parts of the flyovers and pipes for draining water were broken. Besides, lighting was inadequate, it added.