The Financial Express

Two China-funded projects in slow lane

| Updated: December 21, 2021 18:11:57

Two China-funded projects in slow lane

Financial progress on two China-funded power- transmission projects, initiated several years ago, is less than 15 per cent now, though electricity supply in Bangladesh is far behind the generation capacity.

This was disclosed in a high-level meeting held recently in Dhaka to review the progress of several of the projects funded by China, under a huge credit line, sources told the FE.

One of the two projects is 'Expansion and strengthening of the power- transmission system under DPDC area', which was undertaken in 2017.

Till last November, the financial progress rate of the project was found only 14.87 per cent.

The loan agreement for the project was signed on July 4, 2019.

China is providing 2630 million RMB as concessional loan and 1021.77 million (over 1.0 billion) US dollars as preferential buyer's credit for the project, scheduled to be completed by 2024.

The project aims at ensuring quality power transmission without the hazards of load shedding.

About the reasons behind so slow progress an official said that officials of Hifab Oy, the international consultant for the project, have yet to visit Bangladesh, "causing severe problem in completing the drawing and designing works for the project".

The main contractor, TEBA Co, could not provide required manpower for the project due to the disruptive Covid pandemic.

The local consultant for the project, Engineering and Consultants Bangladesh, also failed to turn out necessary manpower for completing their tasks.

"As designing and drawing works are not finished, manufacturing order can not be placed to the Chinese firm.

"Besides, land acquisition for the 12 sites of the projects are yet to be completed," the review meeting was told.

Another power- transmission project titled 'Power grid network strengthening project' under PGCB sees a financial progress of only 13.20 per cent.

This one was initiated in 2016 and the loan agreement was signed on June 7, 2020.

China is providing 1930 million RMB as concessional loan and USD686.57 million as buyer's credit.

Under this project 92 power substations will be built, but, so far, land for 72 substations have been handed over to the Chinese contractor.

The goal of the project is to upgrade capacity and renovate and rehabilitate power- transmission substations in Dhaka and Mymensingh.

Land- development work is completed only for three substations, and the works is ongoing for 13 others. Soil testing is being done for another 17 substations.

The review meeting was told that though PGCB was asked to provide 370 staff members for the project, it provided only 60-- much lower than the requirement.

Another critical issue was lack of funds for the compensation to the local people who are being affected by the implementation of the project. There was no provision for compensating local people, but the meeting recommended sanction of funds in this regard as in many places local people hindered the project works.

Due to the covid pandemic the Chinese firm named 'CCCE-ETERN-FEPEC Consortium ' also could not provide necessary manpower.

The meeting decided to complete the 100-km transmission line under the Kaliakoir-Mymensingh 400KV DC line on priority basis, with a target to finish it by 2023, an official said.

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