Bangladesh Railway fails to prove its mettle

Photo: Collected

The Bangladesh Railway (BR) was the worst performer among the large government agencies in the last fiscal as it could spend less than 60 per cent of its total allocations, officials say.

Insiders said the state-run corporation had been showing dismal performance over the last five years with the exception of fiscal year 2017-18.

Although the government had invested huge funds since FY2010 to improve its services, the BR had been failing to execute its projects under ADP in time and improve customer services, they said.

The country’s lone railway service provider spent only Tk 58.82 billion, 57 per cent of its total Tk 102.49 billion outlay in FY2020.

Meanwhile, all the ministries and divisions of the government had utilised 80 per cent of the total Tk 2.01 trillion Annual Development Programme (ADP) outlay.

BR officials admitted the Railway’s development project work capacity had fallen over the last few years due mainly to the failure to streamline big projects like the Padma Railway link and limited manpower.

The government is trying to make a better railway connection across the country with improved services for the passengers.

An FE analysis found the BR’s project implementation capacity started to deteriorate since FY2016 after showing a better performance in three consecutive years-FY2013, FY2014 and FY2015.

In FY2016, it executed 92 per cent of its total development projects when all the ministries and agencies implemented 93 per cent in that particular year.

Its development project implementation capacity fell sharply the following year when the state-owned enterprise executed only 65.5 per cent of its total development works under the ADP.

Despite better performance in utilising the development funds in FY2018, the BR revived its old practice.

In FY2019, the BR executed 86 per cent of its total development work under the ADP outshined by all the ministries and agencies, which implemented 95 per cent of the total development work.

And the BR showed the worst performance in the just-concluded fiscal by implementing only 57 per cent of its total development work under the ADP.

When asked, a senior official requesting anonymity said that the BR was overburdened with the development work as it had lack of manpower.

“If a person leads more than one projects, then all of those under him or her will suffered. Those will never be completed in time,” he added.

This correspondent has found that some of its senior officials are overseeing even for three development projects, violating the government orders.

A few years back, the ECNEC instructed all the government ministries and agencies not to appoint a single person as the PD for more than one projects.

Until the last fiscal, the BR assigned 13 of its senior officials as the PDs for 28 projects out of its total ongoing 41 schemes in the ADP.

The corporation even engaged 11 officials to lead two projects.

A general manager, who is also PD of the BR’s two project, admitted his extra burden saying he had been assigned to oversee two projects simultaneously.

“I have been forced to take charge of two projects as the authority relies on me very much,” he said.

Requesting anonymity, he said: “I am the PD for two. But some people act as PDs for three projects. You can find out.”

:The Financial Express