- Construction of the 4.5-kilometre road started in 2004
- Later, a change in design reduced the length and width of the road
- But, its construction cost, per kilometre rose from Tk3.11 crore to Tk71 crore
The construction cost of a road in Bogura has increased by more than 14 times because of delays in implementation over changing the name of the project and repeated changes in design.
Initially, the estimated cost of the project was Tk13.70 crore which has now increased to over Tk188 crore, up by Tk174.29 crore, said officials of Roads and Highways Department (RHD) of the district.
Sources said construction of the 4.5-kilometre road, connecting Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Hospital with Mohammad Ali Hospital in Bogura district town, started in 2004. Later, although a change in design reduced the length and width of the road, its construction cost, however, increased abnormally. Initially, the construction cost per kilometer was estimated at Tk3.11 crore, which has now increased to Tk71 crore.
A RHD official said the construction cost has increased due to the complexity over naming the project.
The project was undertaken to alleviate the suffering of the people; however, the suffering has not ended in 17 years.
In the beginning, in 2004, the project was named 'Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College and Hospital Link Road'. Now, the name has been changed to 'Link Road from Bogura city to Medical'.
Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College and Hospital was established in 2004 at Silimpur in the town. There is no direct road to the hospital from Satmatha. If one wants to go to the medical college, he or she would have to go around Tinmatha intersection of Station Road, or through Banani of Sherpur Road, crossing about an extra seven kilometers. But if the connecting road is built, the distance would come down to 2.5 kilometres only.
According to the Bogura RHD office, the project was undertaken in 2004 to facilitate easy access to Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College and Hospital via Bogura Railway Station, Seujgari and Mohammad Ali Hospital.
The district RHD finalised the design with a length of 4.5 kilometres and a width of 60 feet, with a total estimated cost of Tk13.60 crore.
The approval of the project was finalised by the RHD on 23 October of that year and by the Planning Commission on 2 May, 2005. At first 1.12 hectares of land was acquired and the work of cutting the soil in an 800-metre part was also completed. But, implementation of the project stalled after the fall of the BNP-led coalition government.
RHD sources said the project was re-estimated in 2011. At that time, the project design was revised, shortening the length of the road to 2.8 kilometres and the width to 35 feet. Then the construction cost of this road suddenly increased. In the estimate sent to the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry in January 2015, the cost of the project was estimated at Tk72.51 crore. But the proposal was not sent to the head office of the RHD.
Incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Bogura on 12 November, 2015. She then opened the implementation of the project. In the 2015-16 financial year, Tk2.63 crore was allocated, with which the work of 800 metre was completed. But the whole road was not constructed in the next seven years.
Bogura RHD office said after another round of change of design, a new estimate was prepared and sent to the ministry in October 2015, further shortening the length of the road to 2.66km and the width to 30 feet. As the construction work of 800 metres has been completed, 1.85 kilometers of the road is yet to be constructed.
Meanwhile, in June 2016, for unknown reasons, the project was mysteriously declared completed after the construction of 800 metres of the road. But the project was revived later through changing its name from 'Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College and Hospital Link Road' to 'Link Road from Bogura City to Medical'.
Later, the cost of land acquisition, compensation and construction for the remaining 1.85km portion of the road was estimated at Tk105 crore.
But in September 2017, a law was enacted for the acquisition of land which increased the price of land. As a result, the cost of land acquisition of this road also increased, raising the total project cost also.
The project, with an estimated cost of Tk200 crore, was placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council on 23 March, 2019. Out of the Tk200 crore, Tk175 crore was for land acquisition and the rest Tk25 crore was for road construction.
However, in the final evaluation, the project cost decreased a bit.
The RHD claimed that a total of 2.57 hectares of land will have to be acquired for the construction of this connecting road. Of this, 1.64 hectares of land has been acquired at a cost of Tk59 crore.
Now the construction cost of the road stands above Tk188 crore. But as per the final design, the length and width of the road is less than half of what it was supposed to be.
Bogura RHD Executive Engineer Asaduzzaman said the project was stalled for various reasons. Meanwhile, the cost of the project has increased as infrastructure has been built on the project site and land prices have increased. Landowners are now being compensated three times more than the market price.
Asked if the construction cost of the link road has increased just because of the change of name, Asaduzzaman said, "I am new here. I have no knowledge of this. However, almost all the process of placing the project before the ECNEC has been completed. Hopefully the work will be done very soon."
However, on condition of anonymity, a RHD official said, "Initial name of the project, 'Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College and Hospital Link Road', was the main reason behind the delay in implementation of the project. It ultimately led to the increased construction cost. With the renaming of the project, this road is now likely to be constructed faster."
Humayun Islam Tuhin, general secretary of , Sushashoner Jonyo Nagorik (Sujan) Bogura unit, said, "The people of Bogura are mainly victims of politics. Such incidents are happening in the name of development all over the country. Ordinary people do not even inquire about these projects. It is our failure also. The cost of the road has multiplied since its construction was stuck for so long. This additional money will come from the pockets of the people. Such jokes are coming up in front of the people in many different ways."
Mashudar Rahman Helal, president of the Sachetan Nagarik Committee's Bogura unit, said, "It is very shameful that so much money of the state is being wasted in such a way for the sake of the project title only. The suffering of the people of the district has increased due to the lengthiness in implementing the project."