Golam Kibria Shamim, better known as GK Shamim, controlled around one-third of the public works department projects in the country. Self-declared cooperatives secretary of the ruling party’s youth front Jubo League, Shamim has been a powerful contractor at the public works department, with his company bagging a lion’s share of the contracts individually or in partnership with others.
GK Shamim has been arrested and is presently in jail in narcotics and firearms cases. His bank accounts have been frozen and so most of the projects being implemented by his company have come to a halt.
His company has been the sole contractor for 13 large projects of the government, including construction of the new secretariat building, the Dhaka district police super’s office, the RAB complex in Gazipur, the multi-storey building for government officers at Azimpur and more.
The housing and public works ministry is now considering a cancellation of the contracts with GK Shamim’s firm and appointing a new company for the work.
Speaking to Prothom Alo in this regard on Wednesday, public works minister SM Rezaul Karim said that directives have already been issued in this regard.
He said if Shamim’s company GKB would not be able to continue the work, then in accordance to the rules, another contractor would be appointed to implement the remaining work.
Replying to a question as to how one single company availed so many contracts, the minister replied, “I wasn’t with this ministry at the time. However, e-tender and other methods were used to appoint contractors for the projects. GKB received the contracts as lowest bidder.”
There are around 2000 contractors listed with the public works department at present and 194 on-going projects of the department around the country. Shamim’s GKB and Company Private Limited is implementing 13 of these projects alone. And it is implementing another 42 jointly with others.
This makes up 28 per cent of the entire projects, the contract value totaling Tk 66.42 billion. Of this, so far Tk 13.01 billion has already been collected. And the average physical progress made on the projects being implemented by GKB is 68 per cent.
The public works ministry approved of 23 of these projects. The government’s cabinet committee on purchase approved another 18. And 10 projects were approved by the chief engineer of the public works department. The additional chief engineer approved of three and the superintending engineer one.
According to the chief engineer of the public works department Shahadat Hossain, cancelling a contract and restarting the work takes time. If any company holds up work for 28 consecutive days, then they can be issued a notice. Even then if they do not take initiative to start the work, then in presence of an executive magistrate, an assessment is made of the work completed till then as well as the work which remains and the finances involved. Then with approval of the concerned authorities, fresh tender process is taken up.
GK Shamim would introduce himself as the vice president of Narayaganj unit Awami League, and cooperatives secretary of central Jubo League. He was arrested on 20 September during the crackdown on casinos, after which work on the projects being implemented by his firm came to a standstill.
This correspondent on Monday visited nine projects being implemented solely and jointly by GKB in Dhaka. Work of seven of the projects had come to a complete halt. Two joint projects are progressing at a snail’s pace. It was said that Shamim’s firm cannot pay the daily wages for the labourers.
In reply to whether the appointment of new contractors to complete these projects will push expenditure up, chief engineer Shahadat Hossain said that there is always a possibility of an increase of expenditure in such cases.
Former advisor to the caretaker government M Hafiz Uddin Khan, speaking to Prothom Alo about the matter, said. “It is only natural that a burden will be created if so many projects are given to one company. Why should all the eggs be kept in one basket? This is not correct.”
* This piece appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir