We have long stopped being surprised by news of government projects overrunning time and cost, but the Khulna-Mongla Port Railway Project has broken all records, so far. A project approved in 2010, which was to be completed by 2013, is yet to be completed. But there are more unique aspects of the project saga. A project which was to be completed within three years of approval did not commence till after six years of getting the nod, i.e. in 2016. This is the fate of a project that was to have established an important logistic link from the country's second seaport, and link it with national networks and enhance regional connectivity. Only 63 percent of the work has been completed so far!
What one would feel at a loss to comprehend is that the preliminary and basic works like land acquisition and design changes came in the way of timely commencement of work. Can we ask why there were design changes after the project had been approved? And how a plan involving millions in public money, came to be approved, if it needed design changes subsequently? Not surprisingly, the project authorities have asked for further extension of time, which means further wastage of public money. The cost has gone up two-fold, from Tk 1,721 crore to Tk 3,801 crore.
May we also ask, what are the reasons for the scope of work to change? That was the rationale given by the project managers when explaining the cost increase. Wasn't every single aspect of the project taken into consideration when the plan was formulated? Why wasn't every likely bottleneck anticipated and adequate time and money calculated properly before the plan was finalised and ultimately approved?
This is another example of bad planning. There is a propensity to get a project approved quickly by showing lower costs, and the project, because of poor planning, runs overtime and costs much more than initially planned. Somebody should answer for these lapses.