The cost of Cox\’s Bazar Airport upgradation project is likely to reach a staggering Tk 20.16 billion, up from its present estimate of Tk 11.93 billion, as the project cost is awaiting its third revision, officials said.
The third revision is expected to be completed by March.
The much-awaited and high priority project proposed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) got approval in 2007. At that time, the cost was estimated at Tk 3.02 billion.
The authority claims there was no other component except for widening the runway from 6,775 feet (ft) to 9,000 ft.
The first tender was floated in 2010 and a Turkish contractor who quoted the cost at Tk 4.16 billion emerged as the lowest bidder. But the contractor failed to get the work order as another bidder complained that his certificate of experience was forged.
Another tender was invited at the end of 2011 when a Chinese company came up with an offer to finance the project.
The CAAB and the Chinese company negotiated from 2012 to 2014 but failed to reach any decision, as the China contractor asked for Tk 10 billion in project cost, three times the cost estimated by CAAB.
Finally, the matter was placed before the Prime Minister and it was decided that the tender process would remain halted until the issue is resolved, as there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese company.
In June 2012, the government revised the cost, making it Tk 5.49 billion.
CAAB again floated a tender in May 2014 and selected a Korea-Bangladesh joint venture company that got a Tk 5.78 billion work order in May 2015.
After the joint venture company comprising Halla Corporation Ltd. of Korea and Meer Akter Hossain Pvt. Ltd. started work, the Prime Ministers\’ Office (PMO) gave an instruction to construct a connecting bridge with the area where 4,409 affected families were rehabilitated, sources said.
The Local Government Engineering Division (LGED) was assigned the work at a cost of Tk 2.0 billion. And Tk 180 million was allocated for the land acquisition for the construction of the bridge.
But the total amount has now increased to Tk 4.04 billion and the land acquisition cost to Tk 1.50 billion, officials said. The construction of the 595-metre-long bridge is now going on.
The PMO also asked the Water Development Board to construct a slope protection dam in the rehabilitation area at Khurushkul mouza at a cost of Tk 2.10 billion, which will now be increased to Tk 2.80 billion. The Board has completed only 40 per cent work with that money, sources said.
Under the project, LGED acquired 23 acres of land in the rehabilitation area and CAAB acquired 25 acres for widening the runway near the airport area.
CAAB provided Tk 5.20 billion to the DC office for land acquisition by taking loans and the amount is outside the project cost. The DC office, however, has yet to hand over the land.
The remaining 682 acres of land needed for widening the runway was Khas land. Besides, 4,409 families were rehabilitated under Ashrayan project under PMO on 253 acres at Khuruskul.
When contacted, CAAB Project Director Mr Hasib said that the cost of Tk 4.16 billion was estimated only for civil work and navigational instruments (navaid). But the cost of hiring consultants and manpower, land acquisition and car was included during the second revision, raising the project cost to Tk 11.93 billion.
Besides, the Institute of Water Modelling (IWM) and an expert from the Netherlands have conducted hydrology and morphology study for widening the runway up to 10,000 ft. The final report is due.
Regarding the cost hike, Mr Hasib said the cost of the bridge construction by LGED on Bakkhali river has gone up to Tk 4.04 billion, slope protection dam construction to Tk 700 million and land acquisition to Tk 5.20 billion. Also, the payment to the foreign contractor has to be made in dollars, price of which has escalated now.
A source related to the project, however, claimed that land acquisition was made for the passenger terminal building work, not for the runway.
Regarding the delay in implementing such an important project and the cost hike, CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Nasim Hassan told the FE that there are many reasons, such as delay in execution of the project and addition of new components, for which the cost went up.
“We have already completed the first phase of runway widening work. The second phase of the work on the river is a huge task which is now at the planning stage,” he added.