The Tk540 crore steel rice silo being constructed along the River Meghna in Ashuganj upazila of Brahmanbaria was supposed to be completed in April last year, but due to the slow pace of work amid the Covid-19 pandemic, construction has not been completed yet.
At present, construction is being carried out with a small number of workers in a limited range, but the necessary materials are not being imported from abroad. As a result, the contractor is not able to start work in full swing.
However, the project director said the silo could be fully operational from April or May next year after the trial run is completed by December this year.
With the joint funding of Bangladesh and the World Bank, the government is constructing eight silos with a capacity of 5.35 lakh tonnes in Dhaka, Chattogram, Khulna, Barishal, Narayanganj, Mymensingh, Tangail, and Brahmanbaria under the modern food storage project to ensure adequate and strong food storage.
Out of eight silos, the overall construction progress is 73% in Mymensingh, Tangail and Brahmanbaria and only 5% in Barishal. Construction of other silos has not started yet.
The capacity of the under-construction steel rice silo at Ashuganj will be 1.05 lakh tonnes of rice. Jericho-France is the consulting firm for its construction.
Rice can be stored for about two years by controlling humidity and temperature through an automatic heat control device. Its belt conveying and chain conveying system is capable of packaging 500 tonnes of rice per hour.
Every year, the food department procures 45,000 to 50,000 tonnes of rice from Brahmanbaria district during the Aman and Boro seasons. After distribution of the procured rice, the surplus rice used to be sent to the central food warehouse in Chattogram as there was no silo in the district. Once the rice silo is built, the surplus rice from Brahmanbaria and other surrounding districts will be stored.
The modern silo will have 30 silo bins with a capacity of 3,500 tonnes each, 16 necessary buildings including inspection bungalows, godowns and barracks. Infrastructural work of 29 silo bins has already been completed.
All the ancillary work including the necessary parts and connections are yet to be completed. Work on another bin has not yet begun. Besides, the construction of a jetty on the Meghna is yet to be done.
Most of the materials used in the construction of the silo have to be imported from China, America and Italy, but there is a delay in bringing these materials due to the epidemic. Earlier, construction had to be stopped for four months from 24 March last year due to Covid-19. Later, all workers did not attend work after construction resumed. That is why it is taking some time to complete the project, Nizamul Islam, the project in charge of contractor Tama Construction and Company Limited told The Business Standard (TBS).
Director of the modern food storage project Rezaul Karim Sheikh told TBS the term of the modern food storage project is October 2023. The progress of construction of silos in Ashuganj, Mymensingh and Tangail is 73%. And the progress of the Barisal silo is 5%.
"Most of the materials required for a silo have to be imported from America and Italy. Our shipments have been cancelled several times last year due to the dire situation of Covid-19 in Italy. The LC has been reopened. Now the materials have started arriving. Ashuganj silo may be handed over in April-May after the trial run is completed," he added.