The government will again extend the period of a project taken to set up a modern healthcare facility at the capital Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) after the project authorities failed to complete the work on schedule mainly due to the pandemic.
The project authorities are now seeking an extension of one and a half years and an additional Tk 195 crore for the job.
A proposal in this regard is likely to be placed for approval before the meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) scheduled today, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Under the project, called Super Specialised Hospital, the authorities are developing land and constructing a nine-storey building with a floor area of 45,000 square metres. The building will have 12,643 medical and surgical equipment, 2,256 computer accessories and six vehicles. Doctors and officials will also receive training at home and abroad under the project.
Originally, the project tenure was from January 2016 to December 2019, which was extended to December last year without increasing the fund, according to the revised proposal.
This time, the project duration has been proposed to be extended till June 2022.
The estimated project cost was fixed at Tk 1,366. As per the revised proposal, the cost has now gone up by 14.3 percent to around 1,561 crore.
Of the amount, South Korean government organisation Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) would provide Tk 1,047 crore in soft loans. The rest of the amount is coming from the government.
South Korean company Hyundai is the project contractor while the medical equipment is being supplied by Samsung.
As of December last year, around Tk 682 crore of the allocated money was spent, according to the revised proposal.
Project officials said they could finish the job on time as the Covid-19 slowed things down, among other reasons.
"Due to the delay in the project implementation, the excise duty has increased. All other expenditure has remained the same," Project Director Prof Zulfiqur Rahman Khan told The Daily Star yesterday.
Zulfiqur, also chair of the BSMMU's Department of Hepatobiliary, Pancreatic and Liver Transplantation Surgery, said, "After we started the construction work, we found 44 pillars underground left decades ago. It took time to remove those. Besides, the work remained suspended for five months due to the pandemic."
BSMMU officials said the building's construction work was already over and around 70 percent work related to the internal infrastructure was complete.
"Hopefully, we will start receiving the medical equipment by the end of this month. As per an agreement, the Korean company has agreed to complete the project by December this year. We have asked for an additional six months considering any unexpected situation," Zulfiqur said.
The objective of the project is to increase the capacity of the BSMMU by providing treatment for general and complex diseases, establishing a "safety net hospital" through modernisation of medical care and management, and ensuring skill development of professionals. Officials believe once the project is done, many opting to go abroad for treatment will go to the BSMMU.
The hospital will have 846 beds, including eight VVIP cabins.
"It will be a state-of-the-art facility. The treatment cost will also be affordable," Zulfiqur added.