Dev partners suggest review of Padma Bridge cost

It may now mount to US $2.8b
Munima Sultana
The cost of the country’s massive Padma Bridge project is likely to mount to US $2.8 billion as the project’s development partners observe that its present cost of construction has not been estimated properly.

A joint mission involved with the project that visited the country during April-May has brought the Padma Bridge cost issue to the government’s notice and suggested reviewing it.

Sources said all the development partners including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) gave nod to the increase in the Padma Bridge cost from the earlier $2.4 billion showing grounds of ‘inappropriate estimate of price escalation’.

Donors and development partners have assured the government of providing around $ 2.25 billion and they advised the government to finance the rest of the bridge construction cost from the government funds, sources said.

An official said the development partners consider that price contingences, charges and interests during construction period need to be revised and updated to match with the escalation trend.

He said the donors estimate the cost $ 2.8 billion is based on the latest spending on the main bridge, approach roads and plans related to resettlement, which has already come under revision by the design consultants.

An official of Bangladesh Bridge Authority, executing agency of the multi-donor project, said the actual project cost of this mega project would only be ascertained after the end of the tender process.

He added that whatever the cost fixed, it may either go up or down after the final selection of the bidders which is expected to be finalised by November.

The Padma Bridge project was initiated at a cost of $ 1.4 billion, but its price was first increased to $ 1.8 at the time of feasibility study and design preparation making it 6.15 kilometre long from the earlier 5.58 km with road on the top and rail at the bottom.

The project underwent scaling up of cost after the designers proposed to make the bridge with steel composite.

The Padma river carries the third largest volume of waters discharge of all the rivers in the world, ranking it as one of the most challenging rivers. The Padma Bridge, which is expected to be the largest in south Asia, will connect southwest Bangladesh with the capital cutting travel times by several hours.

Experts say after the completion of the bridge, economy of the country will flourish with the movement of goods through the Trans-Asian network, communication infrastructure and a gas transmission pipeline. Once completed, government officials estimate, the new bridge will increase Bangladesh’s GDP by 1.2 percent.

The present government has announced completion of the bridge before the end of its tenure in 2013.

thefinancialexpress

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