Although the Bangabandhu Railway Bridge project was approved with an estimated cost of Tk9,734.07 crore in 2016, only 2.25 percent of the money has been spent in three and a half years.
Now, to move the almost inactive project forward, its deadline has been extended by two more years – from 2023 to 2025.
Also, the project cost has gone up by 72 percent.
With the latest revision, the total cost of the project reached Tk16,780.95 crore. Of the amount, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) will provide Tk12,149.19 crore while the remaining Tk4,631.76 crore will come from government funds.
For the delay in project implementation, there will be an extra expenditure of Tk7,046.88 crore.
The project approval came from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting held at the NEC conference room in the capital with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair on Tuesday.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said a total of eight projects were approved.
Mannan said the dual gauge double track Bangabandhu Railway Bridge would be constructed around 300 metres upstream of the existing Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna River to meet the growing demand for national and sub-regional rail traffic.
"This bridge will also boost the economy of the country's northern districts.''
The project cost has gone up as engineering, procurement, and construction was signed with the contractor before revising the project, said project sources.
Japan's Obayashi Corporation, TOA Corporation, and JFE Holdings will jointly build the eastern side of the bridge at Tk6,801 crore. On the other hand, IHI Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Company will construct the western part of the bridge at Tk6,148 crore.
Thus the value of the contract with these companies is Tk12,949 crore.
Mannan said the project cost had increased following a study conducted by Jica to strengthen this dedicated bridge.
Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Railways Mofazzel Hossain claimed that the project cost had increased for valid reasons.
"The project proposal was primarily prepared, keeping the estimated cost in mind. But the final cost was calculated in line with engineering, procurement, and construction.''
Earlier in January, the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase approved the tender with some conditions, including getting the go-ahead signal of Ecnec.
The project was modified as part of compliance with those conditions, said the Planning Commission.
The main components of the project include construction of a 4.8-kilometre dual gauge double track bridge, a 7.6-kilometre double line railway approach embankment, erection of 30.73-kilometre dual gauge railway tracks, construction of 16 railway approach viaducts, minor bridges and culverts, renovation and re-modelling of Bangabandhu Bridge East and Bangabandhu Bridge West stations and yards.
The project also includes construction of railway museum and ancillary infrastructures, and dredging at the approach channel and harbour of the Jamuna River.
Planning Commission officials said the potential of rail freight transport with the neighbouring countries could not be adequately utilised with the existing Bangabandhu Bridge due to limited access load and speed limitations.
The government wants to increase the length of the rail line by 45 percent within the next ten years.
Of the approved eight projects, six are new, while the two others are revised projects.
Except the Bangabandhu Railway Bridge project, implementation cost of the seven others will be Tk3,421.36 crore. Of the amount, Tk3,342.73 crore will come from the government fund, and Tk78.63 crore from implementation agencies.
The Ecnec also approved the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority's Emergency Water Supply project to be implemented with an estimated cost of Tk732.32 crore.
Once the project is implemented by December 2023, it will supply an extra 447 million litres of underground water per day in Dhaka city.