Railways ministry has changed a project director, who had halted payment to Hyundai Rotem Company (HRC) for supplying 10 locomotives to Bangladesh Railway breaching the contract, and posted him under a junior in his BCS batch.
The move came at a time when a technical committee has been assigned the job of determining whether those engines can be used for railway operations. Two committees have already found that the South Korean company breached the contract.
A committee even recommended punitive action against Hyundai.
Nur Ahmed Hossain, a grade-3 BR official, has been discharging duties as the director of the project for procuring 10 locomotives, among other items, since October 2019.
The ministry issued a circular on Wednesday replacing Nur Ahmed with Mohammad Hassan Mansur, director of another project. Before Nur Ahmed, Hassan Mansur was the director of the 10 locomotives project.
The same circular said Partha Sarkar, director of another project, will replace PD Hasan Mansur and Tabassum Binte Islam, joint director general (mechanical) of BR, will replace PD Partha.
The office order did not mention anything about the reason behind the changes but said the order would come into force immediately.
Meanwhile, the ministry yesterday issued another circular appointing Nur Ahmed as additional general manager (east zone) of BR. Both the incumbent general manager and Nur Ahmed are from 10th batch of BCS and the latter is senior as per the merit list of the BCS exam, BR sources said.
"You can't term it rare, but this is definitely unusual," a mid-level BR official told this correspondent.Contacted, Nur Ahmed said: "I am considering legal steps." He refused to make further comments.
CHANGE OF PD: CULMINATION OF MANY FACTS
The metre-gauge diesel electric locomotives -- bought under a project worth around Tk 300 crore -- arrived at a railways workshop in Chattogram's Pahartoli after they were unloaded at the Chattogram port in September last year.
In its report, a BR commissioning committee said the technical specifications of four key components -- engines, alternators, compressors, and traction motors -- of the supplied locomotives did not match the specifications mentioned in the agreement.
The project authorities halted 65 percent of the payment for the locomotives and the railways minister in October last year ordered a probe into the mishap. The locomotives have been sitting idle in a workshop since then.
A probe committee, led by Farukuzzaman, additional secretary (law and land) of the ministry, submitted its report on February 25. The Daily Star obtained a copy of the report.
The committee recommended actions against Hyundai for supplying locomotives in deviation from the contract and CCIC Singapore Pte Ltd, which the BR employed for the pre-shipment inspection, for failing to carry out its duties.
The probe committee report shows that Hyundai supplied alternator model TA9-12CA9SE, but the agreement sought alternator model TA12-CA9.
Railways officials said the two models are different in terms of power output.
Besides, as per a government plan, all rail lines in the country would be converted into dual gauge within a few years. The government had instructed the BR to purchase locomotives which could be used on both metre-gauge and broad-gauge by changing the undercarriages.
But with the TA9-12CA9SE alternator, the locomotives will not run on broad-gauge, said officials.
The project director not only halted the payment to Hyundai but also raised allegations about "some senior BR officials" joining hands in the unethical activity, to release the fund.
Asked whether they would take any steps against Hyundai, the Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon on March 10 did not give a direct answer.
He had said the alternators, an important component of the diesel-electric locomotives, specified in the contract should have been different. He said they were looking into as to why the "applicable" alternators, which according to him is the TA-09, were not selected in the first place.
The BR on March 23 formed the four-member committee, led by Prof Muhammed Mahbubur Razzaque of Buet's Mechanical Engineering Department, and asked it to submit a report within 10 working days.
Contracted yesterday, he said they could not start their work due to the Covid-19 situation.
The Daily Star could not reach Salim Reza, railways ministry secretary, over phone.