High-cost govt buildings lie unused 

Experts say leaving the high-cost buildings unused for years is a huge waste of public money 

The newly constructed National Science and Technology Complex building.Khaled Sarkar

The government constructed a 13-storey building at a cost of Tk 2.29 billion near the election commission office in the capital's Agargaon area three years ago, with an aim to accommodate the science and technology ministry there. 

The facility -- National Science and Technology Complex -- was expected to promote research on various scientific issues and flourish various technologies, in addition to facilitating gathering for the scientists across the country. 

But the building has been lying vacant till the date as the ministry is unwilling to relocate its office from the secretariat to Agargaon.

Against such a backdrop, the authorities have decided to rent out the building separately to different government agencies. Those who rented the office spaces are yet to board the complex. 

It is evident that the high-rise is not serving its purpose though a huge sum of money has been spent from the state treasury. 

In a separate case in Narayanganj, the chief judicial magistrate court building, which was built at a cost of Tk 320 million on the Shayesta Khan road, has been unused for the last three years.  

The eight-storey building was constructed to ensure the working environment of the court officials. But local lawyers said the new building is far away from the district magistrate court and this is why they refrained from using it. 

The authorities have been in discussions with other government agencies for renting out the building. 

There are reports that a good number of newly constructed buildings have been empty in various places including Dhaka. 

Earlier, the media outlets carried reports on unused buildings of Chattogram Hill Tracts Complex on the Bailey Road, Dhaka Zila Parishad in Old Dhaka, and Government Azizul Haque College in Bogura.  

Experts described it as a huge waste of public resources and blamed lack of transparency and accountability for the scenario. 

National Science and Technology Complex 

The offices of the science and technology ministry, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project, and the National Museum of Science and Technology (NMST) were supposed to use the newly constructed National Science and Technology Complex.  But none of the government organisations relocated their offices to the building. 

The ministry officials said most of their works are related to different ministries at the secretariat. If they move to Agargaon, they will be disconnected from other ministries. 

During a visit to the complex on 28 September, it was learnt that the floor allocated for the ministry has been rented out to Bangabandhu Science and Technology Fellowship Trust, National Institute of Biotechnology, Bangladesh Engineering Research Council and Bangladesh Science Academy.

Ziaul Hasan, secretary of the science and technology ministry, told Prothom Alo, “The secretariat is an old place where many are interested to stay. However, it cannot be said right now that the ministry will not move to the new building.”

However, Munir Chowdhury, director general of the science and technology museum, said that there has been a change in the earlier plan for the building. Some new offices will open there.

Narayanganj Chief Judicial Magistrate Court building

The Narayanganj Chief Judicial Magistrate Court building was built three years ago under the project “Chief Judicial Magistrate Court Buildings in 64 districts”. 

Lawyers said the distance of the newly constructed Chief Judicial Magistrate Court building is two kilometers away from Narayanganj District and Sessions Judge Court. It is quite tough for them to go to the new building and serve the people. 

Hasan Ferdous, president of Narayanganj Lawyers Association, said the magistrate court and the district and sessions judge's court exist side by side in all districts, with the exception of Narayanganj. 

Lawyers said it is a question for the security of the convicts as they, in many cases, have to appear before the two courts separately. Relocation of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court will intensify their sufferings as they will have to run the stretch between the two buildings. 

Meanwhile, the senior officials of the law ministry have visited the building. There have been discussions for setting up a heart institute in the facility. 

National Board of Revenue (NBR) building 

The new building of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has been lying unused for the last seven months. The 12-storey building was constructed at the opposite of the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedic Rehabilitation in the Agargaon area. 

The construction authorities officially completed the finishing touches on 30 June, but no NBR officials shifted there. 

The government spent Tk 4.51 billion to set up the facility, though the initial budget was fixed at Tk 1.41 billion in 2008. The public works department has repeatedly requested the NBR to receive the building, but is yet to receive any response from the latter. 

Lutful Azim, project director of the NBR building, told Prothom Alo that they are taking time as they want to inaugurate the building with the prime minister. He expressed optimism that the building might be inaugurated by December after the national tax fair. 

Negligence in supplying electricity to Information Commission building

Another 13-storey building has been erected at a cost of Tk 420 million in Agargaon area to accommodate the Information Commission and ensure the people’s right to information. 

The project completed its tenure in June, but is yet to handover the building to the public works department. 

A new complexity has surfaced as the project director and the public works department did not secure prior approval for the power connection to the building. 

Moshiur Rahman, an engineer of the project, said, “The construction of the building is completed, but there is a delay in getting the electricity connection. We will hand over the building to the public works department which will hand it over to the Information Commission.” 

Information Commission deputy director (Administration) Mahbubul Ahsan said he came to know that there was a problem in getting the electricity connection. The facility is expected to be ready by December. 

However, the project director, Golam Kibria, refused to make any comment regarding the delay. 

Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said the issues denote that there were flaws in the plan. It uncovers a lack of accountability. 

The government is responsible for making the organisations use the new buildings. Also, the lack of coordination is evident as to what will happen to the left out buildings, he added.