Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed authorities concerned to stop giving more projects to contractors who took on multiple construction projects, but have a track record of failing to ensure quality and meet deadlines.
She also instructed project directors to maintain strict vigilance on the quality of construction and ensure whether ongoing projects can be implemented within the stipulated schedule.
The order, signed by Director Shamim Ahammed from the Prime Minister's Office, was issued to the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division on October 3.
A copy of the order was also forwarded to the Central Procurement Technical Unit, which works under the division. The unit then relayed the order to different government ministries, departments and organizations on October 10.
According to a report recently published by the World Bank, around 70 percent projects in Bangladesh were not completed within deadline. Majority of the contractors have failed to adhere to the contract schedule and performed substandard work.
Speaking with The Business Standard, Central Procurement Technical Unit Director General Md Ali Nur said, "The Public Procurement Rules already has a provision regarding the issue. However, many contractor firms were refusing to follow it.
"Under the circumstances, the prime minister issued an order, which has been relayed to the authorities concerned. If the regulation is followed properly, only competent contractors will get more projects. Which in turn will lead to speedy implementation of projects and ensure quality."
If a contractor fails to maintain the quality of projects and misses the deadline as per the contract, the entity or the individual is in violation of the Public Procurement Act and the Public Procurement Rules.
The contractor can face legal action under the Public Procurement Rules for violating the contract.
Officials from the Central Procurement Technical Unit said project directors and managers have been directed to follow all regulations by ensuring the quality of work and whether the schedule is being maintained.
Strictly following the regulations will prevent contractors with poor track record from getting more projects.
Trail of irregularities
Despite facing numerous allegations of poor quality work and missing deadlines, GK Shamim's firm GKB and Company Pvt Ltd is still involved with a surprising number of government projects.
The firm presently working on 53 projects just from the Department of Public Works. Among these projects, GKB and Company is working alone on 13 projects and jointly with other firms on 40 others.
These projects have a budget of more than Tk4,000 crore and many of these received multiple deadline extensions.
From the 53 projects, one was scheduled to be completed by 2014, two by 2016, two by 2017, three by 2018 and 19 by 2019. However, none of these projects have been completed as yet and the progress of many is next to none.
A total of 23 projects were scheduled to conclude on 2020 and another three on 2021. However, the legal debacle centered on GK Shamim has left the fate of these projects uncertain.
Meanwhile, the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division has found evidence of irregularities following the conclusion of Public Service Commission (2nd phase) project in 2013.
According to an inspection report by the division, the quality of several door locks and other fittings in the project were substandard.
The disregard for following the Public Procurement Rules has allowed some contractors such as GK Shamim to become very wealthy.
Following the arrest of GK Shamim on September this year, his firm GKB and Company Pvt Ltd's monopoly on the Department of Public Works' projects came to light.
A handful of other contractor firms are getting most of the big government projects, mainly from the Department of Roads and Highways, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Railways and Local Government Division.