Authorities of some mega projects are getting ready to resume construction work as the government wants to relax the shutdown to resume some economic activities.
The implementation of under-construction projects – with funds from China and involving many Chinese engineers and experts – have slowed down since January.
Works on most projects have stopped since late March when the shutdown began to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.
Following the improvement in the coronavirus situation in China, some Chinese experts have returned to project areas. But, meanwhile, many consultants, including those from Japan and the UK, left Bangladesh.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction of Rooppur nuclear power project has moved very well. However, the work of the Padma Bridge and the multi-lane road tunnel under the Karnaphuli River projects have been affected by the absence of Chinese workers.
The construction of Metrorail (Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit-MRT-6) and the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gundum rail line has fully stopped during the shutdown. Now the project authorities want to restart the work.
Progress in the Padma rail link project is very poor. In the project, Railway has spent less than 10 percent of the total allocation of this fiscal year.
Officials have said the lockdown and the absence of foreign consultants and expert workers are holding back the project. In this situation, they want to move forward with the limited number of workers.
The construction of MRT-6 has stalled since March. Most Japanese contractors and consultants have recently left for their country but Indian and Chinese experts are still staying in Bangladesh. Dhaka mass transit company limited wants to start work quickly.
Md Abdul Baquee Miah, additional project director (Civil) of MRT-6 project, said they began to discuss with the contractor and consultant companies on how to start the work. "The representatives of the companies are in Dhaka and we had meeting with them on May 7 and 11."
"We have taken an initiative to bring back the local workers who have left for their villages, and will call those who live in Dhaka," he added.
The estimated cost of the first metro line project in Dhaka is Tk21,985. The total progress of the construction was 44.12 percent till April.
The government wants to inaugurate the Metrorail (Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit-MRT-6) from Uttara to Motijheel by December 16, 2021, the year marking the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's emergence as an independent country.
Meanwhile, the work of Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gundum rail line project would restart soon, said Project Director Md Mofizur Rahman.
He said for lake of transportation, the equipment could not be moved to the site. "The shutdown is slack. So we began to resume the construction work. We have already started construction of a bridge at Cokoria in Cox's Bazar."
Around 130 Chinese experts work at this project. They are still staying in Bangladesh. But after the announcement of shutdown, locals went into vacation.
Meanwhile, work on repowering the Ghorashal power plant's fourth unit has slowed down. Ten technical experts from Germany, India and China were supposed to arrive. But they are not coming.
The construction of a combined cycle plant under the Ghorashal power project is now at the final stage, but its pace has slowed down due to the absence of key experts. The Bangladesh Power Development Board has been implementing the project at a cost of Tk2,072 crore.
But at least 75 Chinese expert workers work at the site. Most of the Chinese workers, who went home in January for celebrating the Chinese New Year, have already returned. They would continue to work on it, said Engr TIM Noorunnabi, project director of the Re-powering project of Ghorasal 4th unit.
Shafiqul Islam, project director of the Padma Bridge, said most of the Chinese already came back. Some 15-20 percent of 1,000 Chinese experts have not returned. If the situation does not improve, they will not come back.
Some consultants from the UK and other countries have left for their home. Some 200 consults were appointed in the project. Around 38 percent of the local labour have also left the project site. As a result, the construction work is 40 percent behind the schedule.
"We expected the Padma bridge project to be implemented by June 2021. The project authority has taken a lot of health measures at the site,'' he added.
The Padma Bridge is the government's highest priority fast-track project. Like this one, work on most fast-track projects has stopped because of coronavirus.
So far 29 spans of the total 41 have been installed. Another span will be installed this month. Yet another span will be installed in June, said the Bridge Division officials.
The Bridges Division has spent Tk22,209 crore, which is 73.55 percent of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project's total budget, until April 2020.
Project director of Rooppur nuclear project Dr Md Shawkat Akbar said the supply chain was hampered due to the shutdown. So the construction work slowed down slightly. In May, 172 experts will arrive at the construction site from Russia. After completing the scheduled work, 178 experts have returned to Russia.
"Some 1,800 foreign and 300 local experts are working in this project. Including local labourers, around 6,000 to 8,000 people work at the project. Till April, the progress of the work was 25 percent. The estimated cost of the project was 113,092.91 crore."
The Padma rail link is another fast-track project under the railway authorities, which has been affected by the global pandemic.
Till April, the project witnessed a spending of less than 10 percent of its allocation for the current fiscal year.
Project Director Golam Fakhruddin Ahmed Chowdhury said the work had started to slow in January due to the coronavirus outbreak. Not much progress took place in March and April. The absent of Chinese workers and the shutdown hampered the work.
Harun-Ur Rashid, project director of the Multi-lane Road Tunnel under the River Karnaphuli, said, "Some Chinese are still in project site. But the work has slowed. When the shutdown will be relaxed, the speed of construction will be ensured."