Projects hit snags with suspension of flights

Several major projects involving Chinese contractors are facing problems due to the week-long suspension of international flights, project officials and contractors said.

They said many people, including experts, in these projects need to come from and go to China frequently, and the suspension from Wednesday was hampering their movement.

Meanwhile, China Railway Group Limited, generally known as CREC, contractor for many of the projects like the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, yesterday urged the authorities to resume Bangladesh-China flights.

The CREC, with respect to the other Chinese contractors employed in Bangladesh, made the appeal, reads a news release sent through its PR agency.

Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Rail Line Construction Project and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line-3 Construction Project, among other works, are facing the issues.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) has suspended all international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh from April 14 to April 20 midnight.

Caab made a decision after the government imposed an eight-day strict restrictions on public movement from April 14 to support the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths.

Two flights have been operating on the Bangladesh-China route every week since July this past year, sources said.

Although the federal government enforced the eight-day lockdown, it kept the eight fast-track projects out of its purview. Recently, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan has said they'll not bar contractors from working if they can follow medical safety guidelines.

The CREC said the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project is an essential cooperation project between Bangladesh and China. At the moment, the project is running at a complete swing and the project personnel require to travel between China and Bangladesh frequently.

Around 30 people, like the project managers, safety and quality personnel, and technical construction personnel in key positions involved in the projects, need to travel between the two countries every week, reads the news release.

As a result of outbreak, the project management personnel and the on-site labour arrangements have already been continuously affected.

And today, the flight suspension policy has even worsened the progress of the projects. If these personnel cannot return to the construction site from China promptly, some working procedures are going to be difficult to implement, and some work will even be required to be suspended, it said.

"This will directly affect the progress of the construction work," it added.

At the moment, the pandemic situation in China has been effectively controlled. The Chinese personnel who came to Bangladesh were all vaccinated with two shots, and for that reason they'll not pose any threat of infection to Bangladesh, added the release.

Contacted, Project Director (PD) of the Padma Bridge Rail Line Project Golam Fakhruddin Ahmed Chowdhury also admitted the problem.

He said several experts for starting installing rail track under the project is supposed to maintain Bangladesh, but their arrival gets delayed due to the flight suspension.

Some 700 Chinese nationals are actually working beneath the project, he said.

The government is implementing the Tk 39,246 crore project to hook up the capital with Jashore by 2022 with a 169km rail line over the under-construction Padma bridge.

Another fast track project may be the construction of the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail line and the CREC is probably the contractors of the CTG-Cox's Bazar rail project.

"The manpower of CREC isn't that big inside our project. Yes, we are facing just a little problem over the problem [suspension of flights], nonetheless it isn't that big," an official of the project told The Daily Star yesterday.

"However, we are facing problems in bringing construction materials from abroad. We are continuing our work, nonetheless it can't be said that we are working completely swing," he said, wishing never to be named.

Some experts required for the Bus Rapid Transit Line-3 were likely to reach Bangladesh this week, but their arrival got delayed because of suspension of flights, Shafiqul Islam, managing director of Dhaka Bus Rapid Transit Company Limited (DBRTCL), said yesterday.

The government is creating a dedicated bus line from Dhaka Airport to Gazipur beneath the project

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