Bangladesh Struggles to Complete Major Projects Amid Delays and Cost Overruns

Bangladesh's three major infrastructure projects, including road and port upgrades, have missed multiple deadlines, resulting in significant cost overruns. The projects, initially budgeted at Tk 4,399 crore, have seen costs balloon to Tk 6,969 crore, with completion dates repeatedly pushed back.

Muhammad Jawad
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Bangladesh Struggles to Complete Major Projects Amid Delays and Cost Overruns

Bangladesh Struggles to Complete Major Projects Amid Delays and Cost Overruns

Bangladesh is grappling with significant delays and cost overruns in completing three major infrastructure projects. Thewidening, road, loses, way, delays, costupgrade, Mongla Portrail, line, year, project, years, and Osmani International Airport expansion have all missed multiple deadlines, resulting in ballooning costs and mounting debts.

Why this matters: The delays and cost overruns of these critical infrastructure projects have far-reaching implications for Bangladesh's economic growth and development, potentially hindering its ability to attract foreign investment and improve living standards. Moreover, the country's failure to complete these projects on time and within budget may erode public trust in the government's ability to manage large-scale projects.

The Jatrabari-Demra road upgrade, launched in January 2019, was initially scheduled for completion within two years. However, it has missed four deadlines and now faces a fifth deadline of June 2024. The original budget of Tk 369 crore has swelled to Tk 409 crore, a 10.8% increase. Mohammad Ahad Ullah, project director and executive engineer of the Roads and Highways Department, acknowledged, "If the Roads and Highways Department failed to hand over the project site to the contractor on time... then it is our failure."

Similarly, the Mongla Port rail line project, connecting Bangladesh's second busiest seaport, has faced eight extensions since its initial 2011 deadline. With 97.2% physical progress and 88.58% financial progress as of June 2024, the project steering committee has decided to request an additional year to complete the work. The total project cost has skyrocketed from Tk 1,721 crore to Tk 4,261 crore, a staggering 148% increase. Project Director Md Arifuzzaman expressed hope for a final extension, stating, "I hope the authorities will grant the final extension. Otherwise, the project will be terminated with some work left, which is never desirable."

The Osmani International Airport upgrade, inaugurated in October 2020 with a Tk 2,309 crore budget, has also stalled due to majordesign, causing, costs, timeflaws detected after only 22% progress. The original design, prepared by Korean companies Yooshin Engineering Corporation and Heerim Architects and Planners, was found unsuitable. A redesign is underway, involving increased workload and adjustments. Project Director Shah Zulfikar Haider stated that the work cannot be completed within the stipulated period and will require a further extension beyond December 2024.

These delays and cost overruns come at a time when Bangladesh's economic growth projections face challenges. The world, bank, projects, growth has projected a relatively slower GDP growth rate of 5.7% in FY25, with the country's real GDP growth expected to remain subdued at 5.6% in FY24 compared to the pre-pandemic average of 6.6%. Persistent inflation, tight liquidity conditions, and a widening balance of payments deficit have hampered private consumption and investment activity.

The delays in completing these critical infrastructure projects not only result in increased direct costs but also deprive the nation of the intended benefits. Dr Hadiuzzaman, a civil engineering professor at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, remarked, "It is a travesty to the nation to take more than 15 years to complete a project originally planned for three years." As Bangladesh struggles to meet project deadlines and control costs, the economic and social impact of these delays becomes increasingly evident.

Key Takeaways

  • Bangladesh's 3 major infrastructure projects face significant delays and cost overruns.
  • Jatrabari-Demra road upgrade misses 4 deadlines, with a 10.8% budget increase.
  • Mongla Port rail line project faces 8 extensions, with a 148% cost increase.
  • Osmani International Airport upgrade stalls due to design flaws, requiring a redesign.
  • Delays and cost overruns hinder Bangladesh's economic growth and development.