Work for upgrading Bangladesh's main airport - Shahjalal International Airport - will start in a couple of months with Danish funds, but it will leave out some vital parts of the original project due to fund shortage.
Now the airport's taxiway and its lighting will be rehabilitated at a cost of 311 million Danish krone (US$53.04 million) at current exchange rate), to be provided by Danish International Development Agency (Danida) as grant.
For its part, the government will bear around 85 crore taka ($10.38 million) in duty and taxes on imports of equipment.
The parts of the project which will be on hold for now include primary and secondary radars, a new control tower and expansion of the operational building and drainage system.
An aircraft control system, voice communication and control system, aeronautical fixed telecom network, master clock, equipment for control room and approach control will also be shelved for now.
The government plans to accomplish the work with own funds, officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) said.
The government approved an airport upgrade project in 2008 at a cost of $53.04 million. The project, however, could not be implemented because of a procedural delay and, consequently, the project cost increased to 636 crore taka ($77.70 million).
It became uncertain as Danida refused to provide the additional fund sought by the government in the middle of last year.
The stalemate was resolved last month, after the government decided to complete whatever work is covered by the Danish funds. The government then asked Munck Asfalt, a Danish firm, to reconstruct the taxiway and its lighting.
An agreement was signed on April 26 between Caab and Munck Asfalt. The work will be completed within 21 months of the work order issuance.
Of three Danish companies, Munck Asfalt was primarily selected by Caab after a second round of inviting bidders for the project floated in March 2011.
The first tender was floated in 2009, but all the participating firms became non-responsive.
The Caab initiated the project in 2001 but it could not find any financier until 2006. At this point, Danida agreed to fund the project on condition that only Danish firms would participate in the tender.
Meantime, Caab has recently set up and renovated some equipment at a cost of 7 crore taka ($855,222) to keep the prime airport operational.
The equipment includes Instrument Landing System, Doppler Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Radio and Distance Measuring Equipment.
Caab has also done flight calibration (the checking of a measuring instrument against an accurate standard to determine any deviation and correct for errors) of navaids in line with International Civil Aviation Organization standards. It cost around 1 crore taka ($122,174).
With the help of the equipment, aircraft can land and take off safely even in reduced visibility in natural calamities, Caab officials said. It will also enhance the airport's operational standards.
Besides, work under a 143 crore taka ($17.47 million) project for asphalt concrete runway overlay is underway to make the airport's runway sturdier. Following approval from the cabinet purchase committee, the work order was given to Abdul Momen Ltd on March 20.
Now 27 local and foreign airlines operate out of the country's main airport that sees 190 aircraft land and take off on average a day.