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Vision 2021: Issues and Challenges (Concluding Part)

Saleque Sufi |
Update: 2014-12-17 23:45:00
Vision 2021: Issues and Challenges (Concluding Part)

Need Competent Managers, Capable Operators

For planning, managing and operating mega infrastructure projects a well qualified, experienced, committed core group of technical and managerial teams are essential.

Project teams must own projects and project managers must not leave matters to others. Successful managers not only get things done by others they also do things themselves.

From own deep insight into several projects implementation in Bangladesh this writer is well aware of the issues and challenges of mega projects implementation.

Projects like Padma Muti Purpose Bridge, Metro Rail, Roopoor Nuclear Plant, Rampal Imported Coal Power Plant, Matarbari and Maheskhali Imported Coal Based Power Plants, LNG import initiatives almost simultaneously require some very accomplished project managers and dynamic project teams. 

We are not much aware about the qualification, experience and dynamism of the projects teams. We hope policy makers will duly recognize the requirement of exposure of the protect teams and operation set up to similar projects in different countries. A comprehensive program must be in place for recruiting right professionals and encouraging them for learning skills through training and mentoring.

Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) responsible for coordinating and over-viewing the implementation of the key mega projects should make a stick taking of project managers and officials. 

A skilled manpower database must be prepared and maintained. Few experienced and competent project managers may go into retirement during the tenure of the projects. Very essential actions would be to let all persons involved in mega projects implementation to stay on job till these projects are fully operational.

People may tell that nobody remains indispensable for anything for ever. But in case of Bangladesh which lacks competent manpower and which have adopted several milestone infrastructure projects simultaneously some persons are definitely indispensable.

We also recommend extending the retirement age of technical experts to 65 for accessing their wealth of experience in project management and experience. This may be particularly applicable for technical executives in power and energy sector. PMO through diplomatic missions abroad may try to create a database of Non Resident Bangladeshi academicians and professionals involved in academic research and major infrastructure development projects. Many NRB experts are very keen to assist Bangladesh development efforts of mega projects.

Developed and developing countries like Australia , Russia ,Japan , Malaysia are in a position for assisting Bangladesh in providing exposure to and training Bangladesh officails in various aspects of energy and other infrastructure development projects .Bangladeshis have very limited experience of coal mining, coal fired power generation, coal port management, LNG plants and facilities management and operation.

Bangladesh is not also that much experiences in managing integrated power and energy grid applying the state of the art modern technology.  We are hearing talks of Super Critical and Ultra Super Critical technology of coal fired power generation, LNG terminal, Nuclear Power Plant, Coal Port, and Metro Rail.

But how many Bangladeshis had even opportunity of viewing these?  Have we done extensive techno economic feasibility studies, risk analysis of all these mega projects? Have we made contingency, crisis management plans?

The recent power grid collapse, crisis at Sunbarbans Mangrove forest area triggered from oil tanker capsize evidence how helpless we are? Bangladesh cannot afford any glitch at Nuclear Power plant operation, any crisis in the management of Metro Rail Operation and definitely not human error induced power or gas grid collapse. We hope senior policy makers will give due attention for developing a very well competent project management unit for each of the mega projects government has initiated. We have great hopes on the very dynamic present generation. We believe given opportunities purely on the basis of merit Bangladeshis can do anything which other nations can do.  We need to properly assess our existing capacity and embark on capacity development plan without any delay.

Energy & Power Pricing Adjustment

Government appears to be in a dilemma about adjusting the power tariff, price of gas. Opposition activists and some section of civil society in the print and electronic media are disputing and debating. We are no longer in a position for exclusive reliance on cheaper own natural gas for power generation and industrial use .The same group of civil society and activists also misguided government in delaying in commencing mining of own coal which many consider the best option still for creating long term sustainable energy security.

Bangladesh has adopted much costlier option. Reliance on imported fuel- Coal, Liquid Fuel, LNG , Pipeline Gas and power from regional grid will definitely require many fold upward adjustment of power tariff and energy price. One must remember power and energy are commodities.

Bangladesh energy market is growing mature to start thinking about leaving power and energy pricing in market mechanism. Let market decide the pricing like any other conventional commodities food grains, vegetables, fruits, fish meat. Nothing is free in the commercial world. Every thing has a cost .Utility service providers have to spend through their nose for creating infrastructures, exploring and developing resources to reserve and deliver. Energy and power pricing and tariff are still not economic pricing till now. It is time Bangladesh must adopt cost plus or market driven power tariff and energy pricing.

BERC can make frameworks and should not regulate pricing. BERC must examine the price proposals of utility service providers; assess the costs of power and energy at every segment as the ownership changes. All costs elements must be calculated through transparent mechanism.

Power and energy price can be cost price for the time being. But price capping strategy can be the way to go for a while. For transparency BERC public hearing must address concerns of all stake holders. It is the responsibility of BERC to cater for consumers’ interest and still safeguard the licensees. Creating a balance in power and energy market for all stakeholders on a level play ground is what BERC in mandated.

Proper price of energy price is a must for ensuring energy conservation and efficiency .Cheap energy created inefficiency through misuse, theft and pilferage. Opting for an appropriate power and energy price will be a major challenge for Bangladesh is a major challenge for Bangladesh in achieving sustainable energy security.

Sustainable energy security is the lifeline for achieving sustainable GDP growth, industrialization and poverty alleviation through job creation of Bangladeshi population.

We hope policy makers will realize all issues and challenges of Vision 2021 and embrace those challenges with effective implantable management plans. It is all right to remain optimistic but few wake up calls in the recent past do not evidence that government is ready yet with movers and shakers. It requires a national movement marshalled and managed by movers and shakers and not tall talkers.

We reiterate Vision 2021 for `achieving mid income status means
Sustainable food security, sustainable energy security, better quality education ,better affordable medical care , reliable law and order situation , reliable road, rail, water way communication infrastructure ,freeing major cities from the curse of grid locks , economic and energy diplomacy for accessing to regional energy and power grids.

BDST: 1005 HRS, DEC 18, 2014

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