Mega power projects face Coronavirus crisis

Shanchita Shitu
Published : 07:30, Feb 22, 2020 | Updated : 07:30, Feb 22, 2020

Electricity production in Payra Thermal Power Plant goes in test-run on Monday (Jan 13). The picture was taken on Jan 13, 2020.While many expatriate workers in China came back in the face of a rising Coronavirus threat, they are being kept separate from others. Many have not been able to go back to work and therefore, time frame of the mega projects is being increased which will see a rise in expenditure.
One mega project in the country is the Pyra power plant and around three thousand workers are engaged in this 320 megawatt plant and half of them went on holiday during the Chinese New Year. Many got stuck due to Coronavirus scare. Those who came back cannot work and are being kept in a separate cell.
Project director Abdul Mowla, said: “A few workers came back from China and we have kept them in a separate cell; some are struck and therefore, the pace of work is hampered.”
All in all, 1100 workers are engaged in the plant and the first unit is ready but cannot be started because the work is controlled by the Chinese. For this, 300 Chinese workers will be required while another 300 workers are needed for the work on the second unit. If they come within 15/20 days we can tackle the situation but we will be in a predicament if the time extends to one month.”
The same situation is seen for North West Power Generation in Sirajganj and the contractor of the plant is Power China. Here, many engineers and workers went home for Chinese New Year and got stuck.
To complete the undersea pipeline to release oil for Kutubdia 600 workers are needed but currently there are only 300.
To complete the subterranean power line and power substation, the Dhaka Power Distribution Company, DPDC, signed a deal with Tobian Electric Apparatus, TBA in Wuhan. To complete the project, 300 Chinese workers are needed but currently, there are only 35.
MD of DPDC, Bikash Dewan observed: “Most workers are stuck in Wuhan and so the project has become stagnant.”
Meanwhile, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh, PGCB, has taken a project to improve power lines at a cost of Tk 140 million and since no one could come from China, the bilateral deal could not be signed.
In Barapukuria coal mine in Dinajpur, 400 workers are engaged of which some went home for holiday. Five came back on Jan 22 and after quarantined for 14 days joined work and work is going as usual.