Though the government has allocated sufficient funds for river excavation and dredging, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority has not been able to show the expected success due to inefficiency, mismanagement, irregularities and corruption, according to a report of Shipping and Communication Reporters Forum (SCRF).
SCRF on Monday through a press release disclosed the gist of the report.
It said the level of public money wastage is very high even though the achievement is very little espe-cially in the mega projects. A full report regarding this will be published soon, the release said.
The report blamed inefficiency, indifference, mismanagement, irregularities and corruption of BIWTA’s dredging department for the failure to achieve desired targets in river digging.
It has been observed that the senior engineers associated with the mega projects along with the project director (PD) stay at the head office in Dhaka most of the working days of the year without going to the project area regularly.
According to SCRF, visiting some rivers on the ground, discussions with people of different classes and professions in the project areas, reports published in some well circulated national dailies and infor-mation obtained from various sources have been considered in the long observation.
SCRF said BIWTA has taken up the 155 km excavation project of Kangsa and Vogai rivers from Mo-hanganj in Netrakona to Nalitabari in Jamalpur. The cost was estimated at Tk. 134 crore and 64 lakh. According to the tender conditions, the width of both the rivers will be 80 to 100 feet and the depth will be eight to 10 feet during dry season. The project has also been implemented on paper.
However, it has been reported that the width and depth of Kangsa and Vogai rivers have not increased at all from the surface inspection and talking to the people along the river banks. They claimed that most of the 134 crore taka has been misused.
Mymensingh integrated district office and Dhaka office of the Anti-Corruption Commission are investi-gating this matter, the report added.
According to the SCRF observation, excavation of 227 km of Old Brahmaputra began in 2019. The amount allocated for a-five year project is Tk. 2763 crore. It was said that between June and July of this year, from the junction of the Jamuna-Brahmaputra to Kishoreganj, the width will be 300 feet and the depth will be at least 10 feet. But knee-deep water has been seen in many places in Mymensingh. It is mentioned in the notification that the process of extending the project period for at least three more years is going on without working on time.
According to the report, BIWTA undertook a project of Tk 124 crore and 77 lakh in 2017 with the aim of starting the ferry from Balasi in Gaibandhar to Jamalpur’s Bahadurabad.
At one stage of the excavation, the organization said that ferry service is not possible on this waterway. However, if the project is implemented, water vessels including launch will move. On April 9, 2022, the launch of the Balasi-Bahadurabad waterway was inaugurated. However, due to the severe navigability crisis, the launch movement was stopped within a month.
The report also said that the project cost was increased to Tk 145 crore 2 lakh through two revisions without knowing that it would be successful.
Besides, the project officials wasted public money by constructing 11 infrastructures including office buildings, pilothouses, police and Ansar barracks, fire service stations, tools buildings, driver rest hous-es, passenger sheds, toilets at Balasi and Bahadurabad terminals, according to the report.