PM takes the helm

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said she herself would oversee major projects of different ministries on a weekly basis and work as a troubleshooter to speed up their implementation.
The government has already decided to fast-track six mega schemes — Padma bridge, deep-sea port, metro rail, Rampal and Rooppur plants and LNG terminal.
To expedite other major projects, Hasina asked all the ministries to prioritise tasks which she herself will monitor regularly.
According to several ministers, this engagement of the prime minister aims at carrying out visible development work to win over the people in the wake of the criticism over the one-sided January 5 polls.
Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting, Hasina asked Communications Minister Obaidul Quader about the progress of the 200km Dhaka-Chittagong and 87km Dhaka-Mymensingh four-lane projects.
December last year was the deadline for the two projects, the implementation of which is vital for the country’s economy. The Dhaka-Chittagong highway especially is seen as the lifeline of exports.
The prime minister asked the ministry to finish the tasks quickly to ease public sufferings, said meeting sources.
In response, Quader said 39km on Dhaka-Chittagong and 19km on Dhaka-Mymensingh had been done and hoped the rest would be completed by this year.
The minister told the cabinet that Chinese company Sinhohydro Corporation is dillydallying in its assignment to construct 140 kilometres of Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane in seven phases, cabinet sources said.
He blamed another Chinese company for the delay in the implementation of the Dhaka-Mymensingh four-lane project, added the sources.
The prime minister will soon sit with the central authorities of Sinhohydro, the communications ministry and two local companies, sources said.
The ministry will inform Sinhohydro’s top officials to come to Bangladesh to attend the meeting to resolve the deadlock.
The Chinese company sought an additional Tk 361 crore for the job and informally told the government that it had won the contract for three phases at a very low price, Obaidul Quader said at the meeting.
The government rejected outright the plea for extra funds, he added.
The minister told the PM that he had requested the Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka, Li Jun, this week to negotiate with the Sinhohydro so that it handed over the work of three phases to Bangladeshi contractors and remained involved as an associated partner.
He said Li had assured him of taking all necessary steps in this regard.
Also at the meeting, the minister said hartals and blockades resorted to by the BNP-Jamaat contributed to the delay in implementation as foreign firms do not work in such a volatile political environment.
The PM expressed dissatisfaction over awarding seven phases’ work to Sinhohydro after Quader told the cabinet that the company had got the contract when Abul Hossain was the communications minister.
The PM directed the finance ministry to disburse funds for the Bangladesh army, which has been constructing 34km of Dhaka-Mymensingh four-lane.
She also enquired about the progress of the proposed Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar road connectivity, meeting sources said.
With joint efforts by China, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, a route starting from Yunnan to India via Myanmar has been approved by the relevant departments of the four countries.
The prime minister believes the connectivity will help fight drug and human trafficking, terrorism and intrusion and boost the economy of the region, according to ministers.
The PM also emphasised efforts to establish connectivity with Nepal and Bhutan through India, they added.

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