The under-construction China-funded projects involving many Chinese engineers and experts will be affected the most
Work on the repowering of the Ghorashal power plant's fourth unit has slowed down in the absence of Chinese staff who remain stranded in their country amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The workers, who had gone back home in January for celebrating the Chinese New Year, are not allowed to leave the country now.
Many other projects are going through the same crisis.
The under-construction projects with funds from China and involving many Chinese engineers and experts will be affected the most.
The big projects such as the Padma Bridge, the Padma Rail Link, the Karnaphuli Road Tunnel, the Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Project (BRTA, Gazipur-Airport) are among them.
The construction of a combined cycle plant under the Ghorashal power project is now at the final stage but its pace has slowed down due to the absence of the key experts.
The Bangladesh Power Development Board has been implementing the project at a cost of Tk2,072 crore.
Under this circumstance, the project implementing committee wants to hire experts and engineers from any coronavirus-free country to replace the absent Chinese workers.
The committee has decided to send a letter to the EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) contractor in this regard.
They also extended the project tenure by one more year to June 2022.
Some 35 Chinese officials have not been able to return and join the project work yet.
Harun-Ur Rashid, project director of the Multi-lane Road Tunnel under the River Karnaphuli, said, "Our 288 Chinese officials have got stuck in China. The project made a 51 percent progress, but now the work lost pace to a great extent in their absence."
The project work may end up being suspended if the coronavirus situation continues to deteriorate.
There are more technology-dependent projects like the tunnel construction which cannot be done with local experts, he said.
Bangladesh Railway officials said Chinese contractors or experts are engaged in around 10 of the department's 51 projects.
Md Mofizur Rahman, project director of the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Ghumdhum rail line, said, "Some 130 Chinese people are employed in the project work. Of them, 39 had gone back home to spend holidays in January. Nine workers returned but the rest refused to return and join the work."
He said the China-returnee workers had been quarantined for a specific period. They did not test coronavirus positive. So, they resumed their work.
Besides, Chinese employees are engaged at the Akhaura-Laksam double rail line project, the Joydevpur-Ishwardi dual gauge double line project, the conversion of the Akhaura-Sylhet metre gauge rail line into a dual gauge one, the expansion of the existing computer-based interlocking colour light signalling to the newly constructed third line at four stations of Ishwardi-Joydevpur Section.
The key officials of the projects have not returned yet, according to the railway sources.
Admitting sluggishness in project works, Planning Secretary Nurul Amin, "We have taken necessary measures to overcome the situation.
"We have also engaged local engineers to fill their vacuum."
More than 15 power projects where Chinese contractors and experts are engaged may face problems because of coronavirus.