Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | ePaper

Handwash basin installation project is mere waste of public money

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THE state-owned Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) has undertaken a hand wash basin installation project without any feasibility study but with higher costs for the job as per a local daily report. As per the proposal it would spend a staggering Tk 0.127 million on setting up each handwash basin for the Tk 3.27-billion project.
The Health Engineering Department has proposed appointment of a consultant at Tk 12.93 million for the work. They said the DPHE would purchase each mask at Tk 200, glove at Tk 400, gumboot at Tk 800, uniform at Tk 1,800 and spear machine at Tk 2,600. Earlier, Planning Commission (PC) made its reservations about the costly project for lack of a feasibility study and higher cost projection at some components. It sent back the Development Project Proposal (DPP) to the DPHE, seeking a feasibility study, cost rationalisation and detailed procurement plans on different components.
The state-owned department concerned has recently sought approval of the project in a bid to tackle the spread of deadly coronavirus. The DPHE would borrow Tk 2.86 billion from Islami Development Bank (IsDB) for installing handwash facilities at hospitals, shanties, community clinics and public places. It plans to install 12,400 basins with water supply facilities for washing hands, another 12,400 basins without water supply and 800 mobile handwash facilities at district and sub-district levels.
The project could conflict or overlap with the similar nature of projects and break the fiscal and development discipline of the government. The DPHE also proposed to procure goods and services through a manual tendering process instead of an online system through e-GP.
The huge costs alone are reason enough for junking the project. Then there is the fact that significant overlap with other projects --why should the administration spend double the money on the same project? Also why would there be a manual tender and not an electronic one. Plus the project has high costs of procurement -- all of the signs are essentially red markers for corruption in the procurement process.
We don't need to spend money on yet another white elephant project in the country -- with foresight one can easily say that the basins will become useless after a short period of time. Rather the government can install public toilets which are the need of the hour in Bangladesh -- there are so few of them in the nation that we actually need an app to find one. Spending money on ad hoc toilets wash basins which won't last even for a year is irrelevant, especially with borrowed money which will itself increase the cost.

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