Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tk 150 Crore Commercial Bldg on City Corporation Land

RCC defies rules to favour AL lawmaker

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) plans to let an Awami League (AL) lawmaker's real-estate company implement two multi-storeyed commercial building projects worth Tk 150 crore on corporation land.

The RCC does not have any rules or regulations that allow private real-estate companies to make commercial developments on RCC land, according to officials concerned. The RCC rules also do not allow it to follow instances or rules of other city corporations under any circumstances, they said.

However, RCC Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton has already publicly spoken about awarding the projects to Ena Properties, owned by AL lawmaker Enamul Haque of Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara) constituency, way before any tender in this regard was floated.

Ena Properties has been short-listed for the projects during the pre-qualification process. The final tender is yet to be floated.

The RCC decided to sign contract with the "tender winning" company under the rules fixed for Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) for privately-funded construction of commercial/residential buildings, long-term lease and handover, reads pre-qualification tender documents.

"As we have no such rules, ministries concerned approved our initiatives for these projects which will be done by contractual agreements under DCC rules," Rajshahi Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton told The Daily Star.

"The steps are being taken only to develop and beautify the long deprived north-western part of the city at private cost," he explained.

Liton said the RCC owns the pieces of land but its fund for development is inadequate for the desired development. "As well as development, the projects will open up sources of income for the corporation," he argued.

However, the RCC has not done any assessment about what the projects will cost the corporation if it went ahead by itself.

According to pre-qualification tender documents, the developer firm will construct the multi-storeyed commercial buildings on RCC's land and earn profit through long-term leasing out of shops and floor space. It would then handover the buildings to RCC so that the RCC can receive monthly rents.

In one of the projects, a five-storied shopping complex will be built alongside a 12-storied tower on over two acres (around 6.5 bighas) of land at Sonadighi area at a cost of Tk 100 crore, said RCC officials.

The old city bhaban will be demolished. The water of Sonadighi will be treated and its surroundings will have recreational facilities.

In the other project, an eight-storied commercial complex will be developed on 1.55 bighas of land in Kadirganj, southeast corner of New Nagar Bhaban, at a cost of Tk 50 crore.

Locals value the pieces of land at Tk 16 crore.

Since Mayor Liton spoke in several public meetings about awarding the projects to Ena Properties, many city dwellers fear that both the projects will be given, somehow, to the MP's firm.

"The projects will never realise if they are not given to Ena Properties," said an RCC official on condition of anonymity.

The RCC is also planning several other similar projects, including one for building a multi-storied market demolishing the kitchen market next to Rajshahi New Market.

For the project in Sonadighi, all nine bidders were chosen in pre-qualifiers. Besides Ena Properties, ABC Real Estates, Mahmood Builders and Associates, Monico Ltd, Padda Associates, Iswiraj Associates, N Amin and Sons, KB-Eal Joint Venture and BABL-JC JV are in the race for the job.

For the Kadirganj project, a total of 13 bidders pre-qualified, including Ena Properties and most of the nine from Sonadighi project, also known as Rajshahi City Tower project.

The projects are being called "package projects" since they include essential electrical, water supply, sanitary works and common facility development like internal road network, community space, recreational facilities, utility services and beatification besides building the buildings.

The Daily Star obtained a CD, prepared by Ena Properties, that have a three dimensional images of the proposed Rajshahi City Tower project. RCC initiated the projects showing this CD publicly at different city points.

On contact, Shafikul Islam Bhuiyan, managing director (MD) of Monico Ltd, said, "It is too early to even guess who will win the job as the tender notice is yet to be issued."

"We took part in the pre-qualification process knowing the tender proceedings will be fair," said Asim Kumar Joarder, chief executive of ABC Real Estates JV.

Nasiruddin Mahmood, MD of Mahmood Builders and Associates, also hoped or a fair tender process.

However, lawmaker Enamul Haque, also MD of Ena Properties, while talking The Daily Star sounded more confident than the other pre-qualified companies.

"We shall get the work. We hope to begin primary works within three months [from now] as we have already started designing the project," he said.

"We will construct the tower first and then we will develop the surroundings so that we can relocate the businessmen around inside the tower," he added.

Asked about RCC's benefit from the projects, Enamul said, "The matter is still in negotiations. I cannot disclose this at this stage."

"The developer that will provide the maximum benefits to the corporation will be selected," Mayor Liton told The Daily Star refuting possibilities of any unfair means in the tender process.

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