- Cost increased to Tk705 crore from the initial Tk463.62 crore
- After the seventh extension, the deadline will expire in June 2022
- The work has Tk11.50 crore ADP allocation this fiscal year
- Since 2012, the work so far logs 75% physical progress
The construction of Sheikh Sayera Khatun Medical College Hospital and Nursing Institute after the name of Bangabandhu's mother in Gopalganj is poised for an eighth extension as the authorities could not complete the work in a decade.
The project cost has almost doubled due to the implementation delay. In two phases, the authorities have increased the cost to Tk705 crore, from its initial cost of Tk463.62 crore.
At a meeting on 29 August, the Project Implementation Committee of the Health Services Division expressed the fear that the tenure and cost of the 500-bed hospital and medical college construction will increase again.
In the last fiscal year, the government gave an adequate allocation for the project, which – beginning in March 2012 on DC Road in Gopalganj – was originally due to be completed in February 2015.
But the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the implementing agency, could not complete the project.
Following the seventh extension, the deadline will expire in June 2022.
Apprehending that the implementation work will not be completed, the government has allocated only Tk11.50 crore for this project in the annual development programme this fiscal year.
To complete the project, Tk174 crore will have to be spent this fiscal year. As a result, people concerned said it is not possible to complete the project with such a small allocation this financial year.
Since its inception, Tk531 crore has been spent on the project and so far no more than 75% of its physical progress has been done.
"From the beginning, there were various problems with this project. There are still complications with the contractor," said Md Helal Uddin, additional secretary at the Health Services Division.
"But, at a meeting on 27 September, the health minister directed the authorities concerned to complete the work this fiscal year and also asked for necessary steps to increase the allocation."
On the other hand, people involved in the project say that the hospital equipment has not been purchased yet due to complexities in the tender process.
About half of the construction of the nursing institute is not yet complete. The recruitment process is not over yet. As a result, even if adequate allocation is available, it will be difficult to complete the project in the current financial year, they added.
After a long delay, the construction of the medical college and the hospital buildings has been 100% and 96% completed, respectively. Besides, work on several buildings such as dorms for doctors and students has also been completed.
Project Director Dr Asit Kumar Mallick said the tender for procurement of hospital equipment and furniture was incorrect and therefore the tender could not be floated.
"We expect the tender process to be completed by January. And if this is the case, it will be possible to launch indoor health services from June next year. The hospital aims to launch outdoors next December. The recruitment of manpower will also be completed in the meantime," he added.
The project director, who took charge last January, said a lot of work had gained momentum during his time.
"But due to the death of the contractor of the nursing college, it is not possible to say when the work will be completed. A lawsuit is pending between the two owners of the original contracting firm. If this complication is not removed, the construction work will not be completed," he added.
In June 2018, the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Department (IMED) prepared an intensive monitoring report on the project. The report cited delays in land acquisition and landfilling as reasons for the slow progress of project implementation.
A responsive bidder could not be found due to the price and conditions of experience mentioned in the tender for the construction of the nine-storey hospital building with a ten-storey foundation.
As a result, the conditions were relaxed in the tender notification for the third time. The construction started in February 2017. Again, the contractor did not complete the work within the time stipulated in the contract.
Lack of drainage, non-availability of potable water and delay in installation of power substations were mentioned in the IMED report.