Padma Bridge, Expressway unlikely to be ready in time

Bangladesh Bridge Authority’s capacity building by filling up its substantial manpower gap has been caught in bureaucratic tangle and the authority’s inability to hire people from the market is likely to make the implementation of its proposal mega projects difficult.

Officials said the Establishment Ministry last week permitted the BBA to recruit only 32 people against its demand for more than 300 people.

The permission was given about six months after the BBA had sent a proposal to recruit 356 people assessing their need at various levels of work of mainly Padma Bridge and Dhaka Elevated Expressway projects, they added.

The officials said though the authority has a demand for 118 people exclusively for the $ 2.9 billion Padma Bridge project, vacancies of 30 professionals and officers could not be filled up due to lack of skilled manpower.

“We have now a large demand for both professionals and officials, particularly those who have adequate experience of working in big infrastructure projects such as bridge,” said a senior official.

He said the BBA has been trying to appoint people through direct recruitment and on deputation from other government agencies. The major gap remains for the posts like superintendent engineers, executive engineers, assistant directors and deputy directors to carry out both data and field-related works.

The official however said the authority, despite offering higher compensation package is finding it hard to keep many of its recruits as they are getting better jobs in other private or government projects.

At present the BBA has a 162-strong manpower which, the officials said, is not sufficient to take up the 6.15 km Padma Bridge and the 26 km long Dhaka Elevated Expressway projects.

Both the projects are the priority ones scheduled to be completed by the end of its tenure of the incumbent government. The BBA is also responsible for collecting tolls and carrying out maintenance work of the big bridges throughout the country including its first and the country’s longest Bangabandhu Bridge.

The officials said around 50 engineers were employed either through deputation from the Roads and Highways Department and Water Development Board or through fresh recruitment in various positions in the Padma Bridge project. But some of them have already left.

He said the authority does not have enough experts who are competent to understand various technical sides of the bridge.

“BBA needs to be equipped with skilled people at least for five years,” he said adding that a fresh graduate engineer needs at least 10 to 15 years to become truly skilled professional.

Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, who leads both panel of experts for the two projects, earlier told the FE that at least three to four categories of

officials including traffic, river training, structural engineering and

financial analyst will be required for the BBA for speedy implementation of the projects.

Apart from these, he said, the BBA needs its own staff to work on public private partnership management and guide the contractors at the field level.

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