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Contractors raise question over new appointment

Staff Correspondent
22 Oct 2023 18:46:57 | Update: 22 Oct 2023 18:48:39
Contractors raise question over new appointment
— Representational Image

Five contractors dredging the Mongla-Chandpur-Mawa-Goaland route to ease the transport of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant equipment through the river said that Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) plans to appoint new contractors for the extension project on the same route.

The existing contractors in a press release also said that they should be given priority due to their experience and successful execution of the project for the past five years. They argued that appointing new contractors could hinder the dredging process and prolong the project.

Amid this situation, the country will be a financial loser, and the transportation of goods is likely to be disrupted, the release added. On behalf of the five contractors, Western Engineering (PVT) Ltd has made this claim. Other dredging companies are: IBC Power, Baraka Engineers, Shandong Water Conservancy Group Co and BAE Consortium.

Project Director (PD) of the dredging project and Superintending Engineer (Civil) of BIWTA Md Sultan Ahmed Khan said, “The project again goes to Bangladesh Navy, and they will decide who will complete the extension work.”

To establish the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the government planned to import its equipment through the river. The authority selected the Mongla-Chandpur-Mawa-Goaland river channel for transporting heavy goods to Pakshi. In the survey, the government found that approximately 90 kilometres of the route face navigability problems during the dry season.

Under the circumstances, the Ministry of Science and Technology requested the Ministry of Shipping to dredge the route. The shipping ministry, however, lacked experience and sufficient equipment to complete the work, leading them to assign the project to Nou Kallan Foundation Trading Company Ltd (NKFTCL).

 During the approval for the Detailed Project Proposal (DPP), the government issued a directive to divide the project into five areas and instructed the authority concerned to appoint five contractors to carry out dredging.

Following this decision, NKFTCL in October 2019 appointed five contractors for eight years and they have been dredging the river since then.

The contractors contend that due to the significant sediment carried by the Padma River, BIWTA proposed a project extension, which has already received government approval. They claimed that BIWTA has been trying to avoid the NKFTCL's extension part of the dredging and seek a new party to take on the job.

"The general rule is that if the same project gets extension, existing contractors should get priority if they have performed well. NKFTCL and five contractors have successfully dredged the river. If BIWTA appoints a new contractor, it would be unethical," said Western Engineers Managing Director Bashir Ahmed in a statement.

"This project is of the utmost priority, and if a new contractor without experience in such challenging dredging work is selected, the government will also suffer," he added.