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Cox’s Bazar Airport: Questions raised about runway expansion bidding

  • Published at 08:31 am June 16th, 2020
Cox's Bazar Airport
File photo of Cox's Bazar Airport Collected

On May 17, 2020, CAAB selected CRCC Harbour-CCECC JV after scrutinizing their technical and financial proposals for the tender

The Civil Aviation Authority Bangladesh’s (CAAB) recent selection of a Chinese joint venture company for Tk1,998 crore airport runway expansion job in Bangladesh’s beach town Cox’s Bazar has stirred controversy.   

While CAAB binned allegations of foul play in its selection of Chinese company CRCC Harbour-CCECC JV for the 1,700 feet-long runway extension on the sea, other bidders brought serious allegations of wrongdoing in the process of work awarding.   

Hyundai Development Company (HDC) and National Development Engineers (NDE) Joint Venture (HDC¬NDE JV), one of the 10 bidders for the project, came up with the allegation that CRCC Harbour-CCECC JV has been qualified as single responsive bidder even though it “does not fulfill the 15-year experience criteria and the fact that its parent company is blacklisted by the World Bank in June 2019.”

The Korean company also claimed that it has been disqualified on “false grounds.” Grounds for disqualification were non-provision of statement of receipts and non-conditional annual turnover. 

Claiming both the grounds as false, the bidder claimed to have duly provided both to CAAB.  

CAAB, the implementing government agency, however, rejected the allegation of irregularities, saying CRCC Harbour-CCECC JV has been selected upon meeting all terms and conditions. 

In November last year, CAAB announced the tender, fixing March 19, 2020, as the last date of bid submission. A total of 10 bidders, mostly from China, Korea and Turkey, submitted their proposals. 

On May 17, 2020, CAAB selected CRCC Harbour-CCECC JV after scrutinizing their technical and financial proposals for the tender.

Inspired by Hong Kong International Airport, the government in Bangladesh took the ambitious project to expand the runway at the Cox’s Bazar airport by reclaiming land from the sea in a bid to woo tourists to the beach town.

However, building such a runway on sea is not only expensive but only a few companies in the world have the expertise to construct runways extending from shore to sea.

Footballer Kazi Salauddin, a representative of Hyundai consortium (HDC-NDE), points out that CRCC Harbour-CCECC JV has been recommended as the only responsive bidder by CAAB evaluation committee though “it doesn’t comply with 15-year experience criteria.” 

“CRCC Harbour-CCECC JV has been incorporated on July 11, 2011. So they are only nine years’ old and don’t have 15 years of experience,” he told Dhaka Tribune.

Approached, Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Senior Secretary Md Muhibul Haque told Dhaka Tribune the Chinese company was selected for further procedures upon analyzing the financial documents and “we found that our costs can be Tk136 crore less than estimated. That will be huge saving of public money.”

He added: “We were astonished to see that none of the companies were able to submit the technical and financial documents accurately. We have marked all the faults in the documents submitted to the tender committee by such globally reputed companies if they want to challenge us.” 

Md Muhibul Haque further said: “The Korean company has an option to communicate with CAAB for detailed queries. On the other hand, they can complain at the central procurement technical unit (CPTU), if they think there is any injustice.” 

CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said: “According to the Public Procurement Act, blacklisted companies are not eligible to participate in any tender process.”

“So, there is no scope to select any company if it is blacklisted by the government,” he clarified.

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