Padma Bridge construction work

WB-ADB spat over putting their names in documents halts tender
The government has taken initiatives to convince the co-financiers of the mega Padma Bridge project of resolving the unsettled issues within themselves as the row has halted the tender process of its various works for an indefinite period.

Officials said the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) were yet to reach an agreement since the conflict arose over insertion of the names of all development partners in the tender document, just before the opening of the main bridge’s construction work last month.

Padma Bridge layout

They said the World Bank, the coordinating agency for the multi-donor project, remains stubborn in its decision to keep only the Bank’s name in the document.

Secretary to the Bridge Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan has already sent a letter to the World Bank country director in Dhaka and also held a meeting with the WB officials in an effort to resolve the tiff. But none of such efforts was able to bring any solution until Thursday.

The secretary also talked to the high officials at the headquarters of both the lending agencies through a video conference Thursday, but no immediate headway could be made.

The World Bank headquarters in Washington have assured of resolving the issue upon holding talks with the Bank’s legal department, the officials said. A representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), another major partner of the project, was also present during the video conference.

Talking about the government’s stand on the ‘conflict’, the officials said that in the letter the Bridge Division secretary suggested for rephrasing the document for compliance with the guidelines and policy requirements of the individual financiers — made mandatory in the respective financing agreements with the government.

A senior official said, the operational works for the Padma Bridge which the government priority project is already lagging behind schedule.

The authorities concerned they may seek the intervention by the finance minister to resolve the problem that cropped up between the two major financiers if the process is delayed further.

The US$ 2.9 billion Padma Multipurpose Bridge project has mainly been financed by World Bank with its $1.2 billion commitment. The ADB has committed to provide $615 million, JICA $420 million and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) $140 million.

Although the WB was made the coordinating agency of the project for its highest funding commitment, the contribution of other partners to give the project a shape cannot be overlooked, the sources said.

Officials said the JICA has come forward first to conduct the feasibility study of the project since it was first taken up in 1999.

After finding the construction of the bridge across feasible the Padma river feasible, the ADB had helped in making the detailed design for it, using its fund.

“The issue has sparked a serious problem because that it has also halted the process of releasing other tender documents,” said another official, adding that the government was fully ready to start the project, but has got itself landed in unwarranted situations one after another for other reasons.

The Financial Express

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