The 17.35-km Outer Ring Road in Chattogram has become a classic example of how costs are escalated astronomically and yet works remain incomplete.
When it was started in July 2016, the cost was estimated at Tk865 crore. And now after extending its worktime once, its cost has stood at Tk2,426 crore, three times the original.
But now the Chattogram Develop0ment Authority (CDA) wants a second time cost and time extension. It wants another Tk250 crore and project time extended until June 2021, two years behind the original schedule.
But although it would take another one and a half years to complete the road that extends from Patenga to Sagarika, it was officially inaugurated ten months ago as a mockery to project implementation.
Kazi Hasan Bin Shams, director of the project and chief engineer of CDA, told The Business Standard that 80 percent of the project had been completed when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the road in February this year.
"Fifteen percent of the work is yet to be completed. Besides, a link road that is part of the project will be constructed. The road will start from Chattogram Export Processing Zone. For this, the project cost has increased and Tk250 crore in extra allocation was sought in the revised proposal," he said.
Delwar Majumder, urban planner and a member of Porikolpito Chattogram Forum, told The Business Standard that former CDA chairman Abdus Salam surprised everyone when he got the prime minister to inaugurate the "ongoing" project.
"Increasing project costs after wasting time without any logical ground has become a norm. It is a new trick to plunder people's money," he added.
The 17.35-km road has two parts – the length of the main road is 15.20 kilometres and that of the link road is 2.15 kilometres.
Construction of one kilometre of the link road adjacent to Sagarika stadium is going on, but earth filling of some parts of it is yet to be done. Sub-basing in the other parts is in progress.
Also, bitumen has been laid on most part of the road that stretches from Akmal Ali embankment to Patenga.
However, due to complexities involving land, construction of the remaining part of the link road from Chattogram Export Processing Zone to the Ring Road has not started yet.
Meanwhile, the quality of CDA work was questioned when parts of the road at Patenga Charpara adjacent to the Bay of Bengal caved in on July 13.
After the walkway collapsed, the CDA claimed that blocks were displaced by tidal waves as the sea level had increased.
However, experts said soil erosion has to be kept in mind at the time of constructing roads by the sea, and pre-cast concrete piles have to be used if bearing heavy load is required.
They said separate casting has to be done with retaining wall to prevent soil erosion but the CDA did none of these.
When the road is opened to traffic, goods-laden vehicles of Chattogram port can travel across the country without hindrance via Chattogram Export Processing Zone.
At present, Chattogram airport-bound passengers have to spend four to five hours to cross the 40-minute road due to traffic jam caused by the port's cargo transports. Because of this, many passengers often miss their flights.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency started the project's feasibility study in 2005. Two years later, it signed the agreement with the government.